Juvie Northern Pintails at K-Mart Creek

I am in my continuing education mode in bird identification.  As I have mentioned in previous posts, there is a bit of a ditch adjacent to a now defunct K-mart building.  It usually has a bit of water in it from run-off, etc.  On Christmas morning, as we happened to drive by, Ann and I spotted what at first we believed to be some Gadwalls.  As I always due in these circumstances, I drove closer and got hold my camera that is always with me.  In this case, I grabbed the Canon 7D with the 100-400mm lens attached.  I was able to get several shots, using a smaller aperture for a better depth-of-field, to get all of the ducks in focus.

It wasn’t until I uploaded the images to my computer this morning that I realized that the birds weren’t Gadwalls.  But, I really wasn’t sure still, what they were.  After consulting my Stokes Field Guide to birds of North America, and my Sibley Guide to Birds, I was able to ascertain that they were juvenile Northern Pintails.  They had the gray legs, dark gray bills and more rounded heads than Gadwalls.

juvenile Northern Pintails

juvenile Northern Pintails

So I am learning my lessons.  I found that I shouldn’t be too quick to make identifications.  Especially when it comes to waterfowl. (and Gadwalls).  I do know that I have come a long way in the past four years, getting a little better with my IDs.  I can now, at least, tell the difference between doves and sparrows.  The sparrows are smaller, right??

So, anyway, I thought you would enjoy the photo.  Click on it to see an enlargement.

23 thoughts on “Juvie Northern Pintails at K-Mart Creek

  1. Lovely capture, Bob! Goes to show you just never know what you’ll see where, even in such a public place. 🙂 Been catching up & enjoying your past posts, all so wonderful as usual. Especially glad to hear you’re made it through well on your past illness!

  2. My bird field guides are among my prized possessions – I seem much smarter because of them, no doubt. Happy Christmas to you and your wife, by the way.

  3. Loved the post! I say that we start a petition to the birds that anytime one of a pair of similarly colored species is present, a few of the other species has to be present as well, so we can see the differences between the two while being able to look at both of them. Like trying to ID if a hawk is a cooper’s or sharp-shinned, darned hard until you see many of each species.

    • I agree, you can never have enough field guides. 🙂 When I first saw them, Northern Pintails were the furthest from my mind. I am glad that I checked a little more. Thanks for commenting, Pat.

  4. Very nice looking ducks. You have found some interesting birds in that ditch. Hope the city does not fix it – apparently the birds count on it being there! Thanks for the nice post.

    • Thanks, Beth. Yes there have been some interesting birds seen in that ditch. Shovelers, Pintails, Blue Herons, Green Herons, Great Egrets, Greater Yellowlegs, Yellow-crowned Night Herons, Mallards, Blue-winged Teal, Spotted Sandpipers, Eastern Phoebe, and probably more.

  5. Nice looking birds, Bob. And you have such a great touch with a camera that you can make a city ditch look good in your composition.

    • Thank you very much, Dwynn. I appreciate your great compliments. BTW, re: your comment to Ron Dudley’s post about frog legs. They are one of my favorite meals at one of the restaurants here in San Angelo. I love ’em. 🙂

  6. I love gadwells but haven’t seen them in a long time. From this vantage point I was thinking of American Widgeons but yes, the field guides are essential. Thanks for sharing these northern Pintails, Bob.

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