Friday, March 19, 2010

Skunk Heads - Surf Scoters- One Funky Duck!

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!




This Herring Gull stole the crab from the Skunk Head, then tore it limb from limb, breaking it down to a consumable morsel.Can you imagine the conversation between them?


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.

10 comments:

  1. If I still carved decoys, I would use your photosas reference for this devil! Beautiful shots of this gorgeous bird.

    mike

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  2. Not planning to compete but curious what camera and lens you use; sort of like reading a photo contest where the photograper tells what was used. I'm too old to go shopping now and it must be too heavy for me to carry.

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  3. I shoot with a Canon 50D, a hefty DSLR. My walk around lens set up, the one that lives on the camera, is a Canon 100-400 Image Stabilized lens. The whole set up probably weighs between 7 and 8 pounds, though I've never actually weighed it.

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  4. How wonderful. I thought a skunk head was a certain wild plant.

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  5. Yes, "Skunk cabbage," per chance? I was thinking about putting something about that into the post, but it's too early for them to becoming up, though they will shortly. I had one planted in a garden in my past. I had dug it up from the side of the road. I think they are quite majestic, in spite of their names, not unlike the birds.

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  6. Robin--Have you ever thought about selling some of your photos? They are so beautiful, I'm sure there'd be a market for them... Thanks for sharing them with all of us! Enjoy this fantastic 1st day of Spring! ;) --Kim

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  7. Robin--Have you ever thought about selling some of your photos? They are so beautiful, I'm sure there'd be a market for them... Thanks for sharing them with all of us! Enjoy this fantastic 1st day of Spring! ;) --Kim

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  8. I'm happy to sell prints to anyone who wants them. Just let me know. I do have a link to a for sale photo site on the side bar of this page. Or, you can e mail me. Thanks!

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  9. The seagull holding his snack is priceless!
    HG

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  10. YOu are so funny..! yes well all do forget how old we are at one time or another. yes we all make a list .. so we don't forget the important things in life. Who every said they don't are lieing !
    and yes our husbands are priseless, loving us no mattar how young or old we are.!
    Betty bB

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