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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