Monday, January 31, 2011

Fair Weather Water Fowl

Part of the day Saturday was spent along the water looking for ducks. Jefferson Overlook, just across the Ohio River from Louisville, has a collection of resident birds. The wild and the domestic ducks are quite friendly with each other, and hybrids are the result. I call this one a Tuxedo Duck and they are common along that stretch of the river.
The Ohio River is also a winter home for gulls that summer on the Great Lakes. I can't count high enough to get them all at the Falls of the Ohio. People are surprised to see gulls here in the middle of the country, but they are just looking for water that doesn't freeze.
Domestic grey geese claim ownership of the Overlook, and lord it over all the other birds. I always wonder how they got settled here, since they don't belong to anyone. A man brought a bag of cracked corn to spread around, and all the ducks and geese rushed over for a snack.
Canada Geese are both winter visitors and year round residents here in Kentucky. They appreciated a chance to find unfrozen water for a change too.
The area just above McAlpine Dam on the Indiana side of the river is a popular birding spot too. The bay ducks are a challange since they spread out across the middle of the river. As soon as you find one in binoculars or scope, it dives under. There's no predicting where it may surface again. Today I saw Hooded Mergansers, Common Mergansers, Common Goldeneye, Ring Neck Ducks, Buffleheads and the White Winged Scoter, a rare bird that has been hanging around the dam for weeks now.
I love these Hooded Mergansers - such a big head and little bill!

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