I don’t know if I am just really lucky this year or more observant but I found another oddball Ruddy Duck recently. Instead of a leucistic female this time a male with black cheeks and small white lines beneath its eyes crossed my path. The dark-cheeked Ruddy Duck was in the same spot as the leucistic female – Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge’s East Pond – and I even spotted and digiscoped it from the same vantage point. While at first I entertained thoughts of Masked Duck, mostly because I had never seen one and didn’t know the relevant field marks, a phone call to a fellow birder quickly dispelled that pipe dream. Nonetheless, I was pleased to find such an odd Ruddy Duck, though it turns out that black-cheeked Ruddy Ducks aren’t such an oddity. WhatBird even mentions them: “Some males show all black head, lacking white cheek patches.”
Despite the bird not being terribly unusual I had never come across such a Ruddy Duck before and now I wonder about other possible oddball ruddies. What will I find next?
Enjoy these shots and make sure to pick through the flocks of common birds. Eventually you will find something cool!
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A Brit escapee still dirty from tunnelling out to escape the persecution?
From BNA: cheek through uppermost portion of chin white (occasionally, black feathers may grow in during spring to form patches, but these eventually fall out);
Love the “duck obsession” !!
Interesting pics. The Silbey Guide to Birds shows (in breeding plumage) a “rare dark Ruddy Duck adult male has mostly or entirely black head.” The cool word there being “RARE.”
Interesting plumage, but note that the bill is black, not blue. This is not an adult male, although he’s getting there. Maybe this has something to do with the blackish cheeks.
Nice articles and pics