When I moved to the river last summer, my duck identification skills were pretty much nil. Duck hunting with my buddies meant getting the go-ahead from them to shoot. It wasn’t that I wasn’t interested in learning to recognize birds by sight, flight pattern, and call. It just seemed there were more pressing things to do.
In March, my lack of knowledge was made abundantly clear when Pat Kehoe, Director of International Partnerships for Ducks Unlimited, delivered a terrific duck ID session for attendees of the 87th OFAH Fish and Wildlife Conference. That seminar, and OOD Managing Editor Ray Blades’ impressive score (I think he got one wrong), motivated me to raise my game, so to speak, and the view from my living room provides the perfect opportunity to do just that.
All winter my husband and I enjoyed the blue jays, cardinals, and crows that held court in our yard. But come early April, the ice began to recede and the temperature rose, bringing with it more birds and most exciting, a few days of terrific waterfowl viewing.
The Canada geese arrived first, sitting on the frozen bay as if to will it to melt. After a few days, and some encouraging pools of open water, several pairs of buffleheads joined them, along with ring-necks, mergansers, goldeneyes, and mallards.
For a couple of weeks we were glued to the binoculars and frequently summoned each other to the window for a sighting.
Ever handy on the kitchen counter, The Sibley Guide to Birds, Second Edition started sporting yellow post-it notes, and began taking on that quality that much-loved books have.
It wasn’t long though, before the duck numbers dwindled and then they were gone. We’re pretty much down to Canada geese, a pair of loons, and a beautiful blue heron.
I miss the ducks and am already looking forward to their return in the fall, albeit with a shotgun in my hand.