Not Just Northern Shovelers

When I first visited the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge many years ago, I was enthralled by the sheer number of birds I saw there.  I’d never seen that many White-Fronted Geese, not to mention that many Snow Geese, in my entire life. Over the years, though, I’ve come to love the diversity found there more than the sheer number of birds. 

For instance, it’s been several years since I’ve seen a Ruddy Duck, particularly one with a blue bill, which they only have during breeding.  Most of the Ruddy Ducks we saw didn’t have blue beaks, but this one looks like it was just starting to change.  Unfortunately, he never raised his tail feathers straight up, another distinctive trait.

male Ruddy Duck

I see quite a few Buffleheads around home, but I couldn’t resist this good of a shot.

male Bufflehead

My favorite Puget Sound birding guide says that Cinnamon Teal are common,  particularly in sewage ponds, but I seldom frequent those so I don’t often see them. 

male Cinnamon Teal

Green-Winged Teal are common at Theler Wetlands but are too beautiful to ignore no matter where you find them.

two pairs of Green-Winged Teal

We also have Ringed-Necked Ducks in the Pacific Northwest, but I rarely see them, either.  I spotted a couple of male Ring-Necked Ducks, but they were too far away to get a decent shot, but these three females seemed indifferent to us. 

three female Ring-Necked Ducks

We were lucky enough to dodge California’s recent storms on most of our visit, and the blue skies added a flash of brilliance to the photos that has been hard to come by in the Pacific Northwest this winter.