Drop-In Ducks

Above: common goldeneye (top center) with hooded mergansers.

Hooded mergansers are regular winter waterfowl visitors to the museum. But, we occasionally have other waterfowl drop in. On Thursday, November 7, I spotted a female common goldeneye mixed in with the regulars. Goldeneyes are not common here on the Piedmont. In fact, they’re listed as rare to uncommon in our area at this time of year, which means some goldeneyes may be in the area, but you may or may not be able to locate one with any certainty.

Female common goldeneye (Nov 2019).

As with the mergansers, goldeneyes are diving ducks and eat practically the same food as the mergs. It makes sense the goldeneye would stick with the mergansers, safety in numbers, and if the mergansers are finding food then the goldeneye will too.

Over the years we’ve had nearly a dozen species of duck visit the wetlands. Both diving ducks and dabblers have spent at least a day or two on our small pond. Here’s some I was able to photograph.

Black duck (July 2015).
Bufflehead, young male and female (Nov 2014, Dec 2016)
Blue-winged teal (Mar 2011).
Mallard (many occasions).

Not officially ducks, grebes share much the same lifestyle as ducks.

Pied-billed grebe (Sept – Oct, 2009…2016).
Two pied-billed grebes (Oct 2009).
Redhead (Feb 2014).
Close of redhead (Oct 2014).
Ring-necked duck (Dec 2018).
Wood duck (2009…2017).
Drake wood duck (May 2017).

Stop by and see what you can discover in our wetlands. As the deep freeze descends upon us and the ponds, lakes, rivers, and bays up north freeze over, I would expect more waterfowl to move south. You never know what might drop in!

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