Ducks don’t count.

Ducks aren’t birds. Sorry. They’re ducks. They float.

Birds are flying postage stamps from exotic places. You see them on land. In trees, fields or unexpected spots. They’re the so-called perching birds, or passerines technically. Or maybe birds of prey, the buteos and accipiters. They’re wild animals. Not sitting ducks.

This winter, this week, today, I’m talking about waxwings, longspurs, grosbeaks, titmice. And there’s hawk action right now. I saw a Harrier, Kestrel and countless Red-tails. And there are eagles, if you look.

Eagles, like coyotes, used to be associated only with back country. Today they’re all over. That’s wild.

Real birding means winter Blue Jays, Northern Shrikes, Ravens, Brown Creepers. A Red-bellied Woodpecker (maybe not a passerine, but close enough). And an Eastern Bluebird in a snowy bush, a shivering bluebird that stayed home in the cold; that’s cool.

In spring there are tanagers and the Yellow-breasted Chat. Bird names can kill you. A chat. You gotta laugh. But that’s birding.

I hate to say it, but to be honest I came across a thawing lake in late winter and there were ducks. Who cares, I figured. But then some were different from the usual Mallards and teals.

Okay, a Bufflehead’s out there. Can’t miss it. I gave it grudging interest. I saw a couple of well-named Wood Ducks in a nearby creek in the woods. They were colorful, worth a moment’s notice I guess.

But then, hold everything: I saw a chubby little Ruddy Duck on the lake. What a wrong name. This duck’s beak is bright blue. The bird namers should’ve called it the bluebill. But no. It’s a Ruddy Duck, even though ruddy means red, not blue. (Yeah, yeah, some people call Scaups bluebills, but that’s a slang name.)

I guess there’s dark redness on this bird’s body, but the beak is its amazing feature. It looks artificial. It looks like it was dunked in a can of bright blue paint. It should be the bluebill. When you see it, you don’t think about anything else. Or maybe it should be called the Odd Duck. It looks odd and doesn’t always show up where it’s expected.

Whatever it’s called or not called, this bird is interesting. I admit it. Ducks don’t count, at least not in my book. Most of the time. But a blue-billed Ruddy Duck, that’s a sighting.

2 Responses to “Ducks don’t count.”

  1. Will says:

    Yeah, that’s a two legged, winged beast of interest fer sure. Glad to have found this blog, definitely my kind of place!

  2. Sally Finley says:

    Wow, how sad for you that you feel this way!