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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Written by Corey
Corey is a New Yorker who lived most of his life in upstate New York but has lived in Queens since 2008. He's only been birding since 2005 but has garnered a respectable life list by birding whenever he wasn't working as a union representative or spending time with his family. He lives in Forest Hills with Daisy and Desmond Shearwater. His bird photographs have appeared on the Today Show, in Birding, Living Bird Magazine, Bird Watcher's Digest, and many other fine publications. He is also the author of the American Birding Association Field Guide to the Birds of New York.