Sunday, February 19, 2012

Long-tailed Ducks Credit River Mississauga

Over the past few weeks, these lively black and white ducks arrived on the river in the Port Credit area of Mississauga. As far as I can determine, checking various bird sites, these birds are called Long-tailed ducks.

Male and Female Long-tailed Ducks
 This pair of long-tailed ducks was swimming up the Credit River just north of the Lakeshore Road bridge near the lighthouse. I took a short video (below) as they move fairly fast.  They also seem to shy away from people, so as you get closer, they move farther away.

Male Long-tailed Duck Credit River Mississauga Ontario
 When we first noticed these 'different' black and white ducks on the river, we wondered if they could be harlequins; but no, once you get a close look, you can tell they are different. Long-taileds are apparently a recent name for these ducks. The former name was the insensitive and inaccurate 'oldsquaws'. The scientific name is Clanguia hyemalis.

Male Long-tailed Duck
 Though all these photos were taken at the same time on the same day, the various angles of the diffused sunlight made the water color blue-green or gray.  I took pictures from both sides of the river and from the bridge, trying to get as close as possible. But as I got closer, they moved further away.

Two Male Long-tailed Ducks 
 In the above photo, the light makes the color of the water and the color of the ducks almost the same. At one point, I counted about a dozen of these birds swimming and diving in a loosely knit group. From what I could discover, they like to feed on small crustaceans at this time of year.

Male Long-tailed Duck
The best information I could find is on this page: avianweb.com/longtailedduck.html .  The description threw me at first as it classed this bird as a 'sea duck', and Port Credit is a few thousand kilometers from the sea. But read on, and it informs that it also winters around the Great Lakes, one of which is Ontario (Credit River empties into Lake Ontario here).


Trumpeter Swan Credit River (Tagged)
The Credit River and the shores of Lake Ontario in Mississauga are filled with bird life much of the year, such as Mute Swans and (photo above) Trumpeter Swans, who were swimming and feeding along with the Long-tailed Ducks, Canada geese and mallards. Trumpeter swans are tagged and tracked; non-native Mute swans are not.

Here along the Lake, we are accustomed to seeing a variety of birds on the river, and often don't even stop to look. But if you get in the habit of stopping for a few minutes and really looking at the individual birds, you can usually spot newcomers or 'odd ducks' such as buffleheads among the usual waterfowl.

Here is the short video I took of these fast little swimmers and divers:




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