Aug 132014
 

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I photographed this pair of tufted ducks in a pond in a park in London where they are common. The male’s eyes are bright yellow, his beak is blue with a black tip, and he has a conspicuous tuft of feathers on the back of his head from which the species gets its common name.

Breeding season has passed and this male is changing into eclipse plumage; in a few weeks his white flanks will be brown. When breeding, his dark back and breast are black, his head has an even brighter purple and green gloss, and his white flanks are brilliant.

A pair of tufted ducks, Aythya fuligula, male left and female right.

The female tufted duck is brown with yellow eyes and a dark bill.

Tufted ducks are common throughout Eurasia. In winter, they sometimes show up on either coast of the United States and Canada. Rare bird alerts go out and birdwatchers rush to see them and check them off their life lists.

“… ducks are soothy things
And lovely on the lake
When the sunlight draws
Thereon their pictures dim
In colors cool…”
from the poem DUCKS by Frederic William Harvey

Julie Feinstein

Julie Feinstein

I am a Collection Manager at the American Museum of Natural History, an author, and a photographer. I live in New York City. I recently published my first popular science book, Field Guide to Urban Wildlife, an illustrated collection of natural history essays about common animals. I update my blog, Urban Wildlife Guide, every Sunday.

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