This week’s photo, taken exactly one year ago on January 16, 2013 at Meadowbrook Pond in northeast Seattle, WA, features a male GREEN-WINGED TEAL, one of many species of duck that winter in the Seattle area.
When ducks fly south for the winter, a great number journey no farther than Washington state. Perhaps those short distance migrants feel the same as many humans about the hassle of long distance travel. Maybe the ducks don’t like the food served during long flights, or the restrictions on cell phone use. Whatever the reason that many ducks and other waterfowl spend their winters in the waters of the Pacific Northwest, local bird-watchers are delighted that they do.
Here in the Seattle area, some of the ducks wintering with us in big numbers include wigeons, scaups, bufflehead and goldeneye. Other water birds that bless us with their presence this time of year include loons, grebes, swans, and several varieties of gulls. Although a year-round resident here, the American Coot floats on the water in tight packs, called rafts, during the winter months. If you view, from a distance, a group of hundreds or even thousands of coots that are bunched together tightly on the water, you might think it’s possible to walk across the “raft” without getting your feet wet. Good luck persuading a group of coots to let you try.