I spent some 'pier time' today as it is about fifty-five degrees and sunny. There is a brisk, off shore breeze, so I admit to donning more than my bathrobe. There were plenty of sea birds around, but few of them were close enough to photograph well. Exceptions were these Surf scoters. This chunky diving duck is called "Skunk-Head Coot," or "Skunk Head" because of the white patch on the back of the head. I don't usually see them in this close to the shore, but rather, out at sea in groups of a dozen or so. They are easy to identify from a distance as the white patch is very noticeable against the dark of the sea. Like the skunk mammal they get their name from, you don't have to see them up close to know it's them! These birds nest on freshwater lakes in Canada. The males circle around the females while on the water protecting a moving territory. When the chicks hatch, they hit the water really quickly. The mothers don't do much for them other than to protect them. Frequently, the little Skunk Heads get mixed up from one mother to another, so they may be raised by a mother other than their own. None of them seem to mind this. Surf scoters spend the winter on shallow marine shores like Maine, New Jersey and California where they can dive for crustaceans and mollusks. Spring has also brought out the other kind of skunk. The unmistakable smell of burning tires is riding heavily on the night air of late. Perhaps it's a good thing there was a stiff breeze down on the pier, in case those Skunk Heads sprayed me. Now that would be a bad birding adventure! Get out the tomato juice!
And here we have a little "happy dance!"
Sick, really sick.
Thanks to David Allen Sibley -The Sibley Guide To Birds, Wikipedia and allaboutbirds.com for the information. Another terrific birding site I've discovered is 10000birds.com. It was very informative and I shall be referring to it again in the future.