Skip to main content

White-cheeked Pintail in Ohio

Dan Russo of Westerville sent along some photos of an interesting duck today - a White-cheeked Pintail, Anas bahamensis. The beautiful fowl appeared recently at a suburban pond, and immediately began consorting with the local semi-domestic Mallards and other tame fare.

Lest you become crazed with listing lust and are lunging for the binocs and car keys, trust me - this is not a wild bird. We don't know its origins, but I'd wager three Jabirus and a Torrent Duck that this White-cheeked Pintail didn't fly to Central Ohio from the tropics.

 Photo: Dan Russo

The pintail happily waddles about the lawn with some Mallards, seeking handouts. It's the one in the back, with the white cheeks. White-cheeked Pintail is indigenous to the Caribbean and parts of South America, with a population also found on the Galapagos Islands. Their occurrence as a wild vagrant in the United States is very questionable, and probably only the south Florida records are in the running as potential bonafide vagrants. But even most if not all of those records are questionable.

Photo: Dan Russo

Lots -and I mean LOTS - of individuals and organizations keep waterfowl. And what fancier of feathered things with webbed feet wouldn't want a duck such as this gorgeous pintail? Well, a lot of folks want such animals, and have them. I have seen some amazing species and collections of waterfowl on people's ponds over the years, including rare Ohio vagrants such as Barrow's Goldeneye, Tufted Duck, and Eurasian Wigeon. One time, in rural eastern Ohio, I was shocked to glance over at a farm as I passed by and see a bunch of Hawaiian Geese (formerly Nene)!

Another time, Bernie Master and I were looking over wild fowl at a pond at Killdeer Plains when a gentleman who didn't appear to be a birder drove up and asked what we were seeing. It turned out he knew every duck out there, and well - he had kept nearly all of them in captivity at one time or another! This guy was a wealth of knowledge about the local waterfowl collector trade, and we picked his brain for some time about different species in captivity, their frequency, cost, etc. After that encounter, I wondered all the more about the legitimacy of many of the so-called wild vagrant ducks in Ohio and elsewhere. Some of these wayward fowl are certainly wild - waterfowl are very strong flyers after all - but others are just as certainly escapees and it can sometimes be impossible to know the origin.

Nearly every species of duck, goose, and swan you could name is available for sale and being kept in captivity. The last time I visited the Cincinnati Zoo, they had Harlequin Duck, Smew, and Barrow's Goldeneye swimming about on an outdoors lake. I have heard birders say that these are tough species to keep in captivity, but I'm not so sure that's true.

Here's some sample prices of a few species (by the pair) that I saw in a quick web search, and all are major Ohio rarities:

Cinnamon Teal - $130.00
Tufted Duck - $195.00
Black-bellied Whistling Duck - $135.00
Barnacle Goose (no Ohio records but we've had free-flyers show up and origin of this species is oft-debated on the east coast) - $325.00

And, for kicks, White-cheeked Pintail - a steal at $90.00 a pair.

Even Garganey - remember the recent lingering bird in southwest Ohio - is readily available should you wish to purchase some.

Just remember to keep their wings clipped, lest they fly away like this pintail did.

Thanks to Dan for sharing his photos of this beautiful duck.

Comments

bird cages said…
I have always been curious about what kinds of ducks those were. I had never managed to identify them. Thanks for the help and information!

Popular posts from this blog

The Pinching Beetle, a rather brutish looking bug

The world is awash in beetles, and they come in all shapes and sizes. Few of them can match the intimidation factor of a Pinching Beetle, Lucanus capreolus, though. Those formidable looking mandibles look like they could slice off a finger.

Today was one of those coolly diverse days. I started off down in Fayette County, visiting the farm of a friend. He has restored about 25 acres of wetlands, and the response by the animal community has been nothing short of phenomenal. Blizzards of dragonflies of many species, amphibians galore, and nesting Blue-winged Teal, Pied-billed Grebe, and Sora. Among MANY other things. And all in a short two years. Add water and they will come.

Then, working my way home, I ducked into a Madison County cemetery that has a thriving population of Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrels, and shot images of our native prairie dog. Then, I stopped at a spot along Little Darby Creek, waded on in, and procured some pretty nice shots of various stream bluets and dancers. …

Calliope Hummingbird in central Ohio!

A hatch-year male Calliope Hummingbird strikes a pose. Small but tough, the hummingbird was feeding actively yesterday in 39 F temperatures. It frequents feeders and gardens at a home in Delaware County, Ohio, about a half-hour north of Columbus.

Fortunately, the wayward hummer appeared at the home of Tania and Corey Perry. Tania is a birder, and knew right away that the hummingbird was something special. For a while, the identification was up in the air, which isn't surprising. The Calliope Hummingbird used to be placed in its own genus, Stellula, but has recently been submerged into the genus Selasphorus, which includes Allen's, Broad-tailed, and Rufous hummingbirds. The latter two, especially, are quite similar to the Calliope in subadult plumage. Rufous is the default "vagrant" hummingbird here, with dozens of records and birds turning up annually. There is but one Ohio record of Allen's Hummingbird, from late fall/early winter 2009. Ditto the Calliope Hummi…

Ballooning spiders

Fear not, ye arachnophobes. The subject of this entry is indeed about spiders, but the star of the show is about as cute as a spider can get. And you'll want to know what we're about to learn...

On my recent West Virginia foray, we were strolling down a seldom-used lane, when a bright yellow object caught our eye. It was a goldenrod crab spider, Misumena vatia, on top of a post! Not only that, she - it is a girl - was acting extraordinarily goofy. The spider would stilt up as high as she could go on her legs, weave back and forth, jig side to side, and otherwise engage in what appeared to be spider break-dancing.

Click the pic for expansion, and you can see two columns of silk issuing from her spinnerets. This is an important point, as we set about determining what this non-web-making spider is doing.


So fixated was our spider on her task that she even rejected what would seem to me to be a perfectly scrumptious meal. This little caterpillar climbed rapidly up the post and dire…