Summer bird searches still are not yet upon us–a good thing since new species seem to be added on a daily basis to this year’s impressive list of vagrants. With a house full of company for Marin’s dance recital this weekend, I still managed to sneak away this morning (at 4 AM) with Randy Frederickson to nab the pair of Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks that showed up in Le Sueur County.
This was a lifer for me and a state bird for Randy. Technically Evan and I have seen this duck before–we once spotted a pair in a monkey exhibit at the Phoenix Zoo. However, the docent told us they had their wings clipped and of course did not “count”. That sighting was good enough for Evan but not me. I did try for some wild ones last year in Rio Rico, AZ but came up empty. Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks are mostly found in Texas and limited parts of Arizona and Florida but occasionally stray into the Midwest. It was a nice treat to see them right here at home.
These birds were quite content to gorge themselves in this mucky drainage right by a cow barn and then fly to a nearby lake to loaf for the day.
While many of the regular migrants have been AWOL or shown up in pathetic numbers, I don’t recall a better spring for figurative and literal odd ducks. While I have gotten some nifty additions to my life list this spring, the misses have numerous and sometimes painful. Nevertheless, I’ll enjoy the gifts I get. What’s next?