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A note: I’ll be away for a few days on business and this blog will be on hiatus until I return. Hopefully, that will be next Thursday, the 15th.
Now, it’s back to Reid Park and some more interesting birds. Tucson and its environs are home to a dozen or more species of migrant ducks every fall and winter. Some of them, like American Wigeons, show up in large numbers and carpet our local ponds and lakes. Others are much less common.
One of the seldom-seen species is the Canvasback. This is not a rare species of duck. In summer it resides in the northwestern United States, western Canada, and southeastern and central Alaska. In winter, can be found throughout the southern United States and on both coasts. It doesn’t show up all that often in Arizona, but I’ve seen it on occasion. To my delight, there were at least a couple dozen of these ducks, males and females, swimming on the ponds at Reid Park.
Freshwater ducks fall into two broad categories: dabblers and divers. Dabblers, like American Wigeons, remain on the water’s surface as they forage, dipping only their heads and upper bodies into the water. Divers, as their name implies, dive for their food. Most divers tend to be small and definitely smaller in size than most dabblers. That’s not true with Canvasbacks. These are pretty good size ducks and are among the largest divers.
These are exceptionally beautiful ducks. The male is distinguished by its reddish head and neck, brownish breast, and pale gray to white back. He has a long, black beak, and ruby red eyes.
Females are less colorful than the males but are subtly beautiful in their own right, colored in various shades of buff and tan with deep brown eyes.
I’ve been trying to photograph this species for years without much success. At Reid Park, however, the Canvasbacks are practically tame, at least when they think they’re about to get a meal.
Images made with a Canon 5Diii, 100-400mm ISII zoom lens+1.4x Extender, aperture priority setting, ISO 400. The first image shot at f8 @ 1/400, the second at f8 @ 1/500.