Birds of Seabrook Island

COAST BIRDS
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ANECDOTES

  Canvasback
 
 

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Species Acct.
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  Order Anseriformes - Waterfowl
   Family Anatidae - Ducks, Geese, and Swans
      Subfamily Anatinae - True Ducks
         Tribe Aythyini - Bay Ducks (Pochards)
  Waterfowl vary in size - from teal to swans. They all have webbed feet and dense, waterproof plumage. Most nest on the ground and the nest is lined with down plucked by the female from her breast. Except for two small groups not found in North America, all belong to one (or two) families.
Ducks, Geese, and Swans are waterfowl with their bill finely serrated or grooved on the edge. Their tongue is fleshy. Their front toes are webbed. Males have a functional penis. They are strong fliers and many migrate long distances. 
True Ducks are sexually dimorphic. The female incubates and cares for the young - the male usually deserts early. Ducks undergo a simultaneous molt of their flight feathers and are flightless until the flight feathers of the alternate plumage regrow. Thus, males wear their nuptial plumage on the winter grounds where pair formation occurs in most species. 
Bay Ducks are heavy-bodied diving ducks that use their feet while underwater.   
     
     
  Canvasback, Aythya valisneria
 
  Cornell     USGS     Wiki     ToL     EoL
        WINTER - Rare / Rare
            MARSHES, IMPOUNDMENTS, BAYS (fresh) - (also bays and estuaries in winter -
            brackish water)
MORE PICTURES
 
   These are large ducks with a unique head shape - they have a long, pointed bill and flat forehead forming a distinctive silhouette. In male Canvasbacks, the head and neck is cinnamon and the bill and belly are black. The body is white. Females also have the typical profile and a black bill with a paler head and neck. They have no speculum in the wing. They are fairly common winter resident in coastal waters. They are widespread in the Holarctic region.          
Canvasback
     
Canvasbacks. Palo Alto Baylands, CA
Photo by Ed Konrad
   
  RANGE: Canvasbacks breed from the Dakotas, Wyoming, and Idaho, north to central Alaska and the Arctic Ocean and east to Wisconsin. They winter along both coasts and inland to southern Illinois and northern Texas. They winter south to southern Mexico.
  BREEDING: Monogamous. One brood. Females build a well-concealed nest in a marsh. The nest is basket-shaped and is placed on vegetation over water. It is lined with down. They lay 7-12 eggs and are often parasitized by Redheads. The female incubates for 23-29 days. The male deserts when the clutch is complete. Development is precocial. Young are led to open water several hours after hatching. The female remains with them for several weeks but departs before the can fly. They are able to fly at 56-68 days of age.
   Females are "philopatric" - they return to their natal area to breed.
  DIET: They feed mostly on plant material - leaves, roots, and seeds. They also eat mollusks, insects and some small fish. In summer, males may continue to concentrate on plants while females and young feed on aquatic insect larvae. They dive for food. In shallow water they may stir sediments with their feet then upend to feed.
  VOICE: Females utter a low, growling "grrt grrt..." They also utter a repeated "kuck."
  NOTES:
   Checklists -
      Kiawah - rare, fall through winter (winter visitor).
      Coastal - uncommon winter visitor. Hilton Head - uncommon winter visitor. Cape Romain - common/absent/common/abundant.
         Huntington Beach - uncommon, October; common November - March; rare April.
      ACE - rare winter and spring.
   CBC: ACE Basin 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 0; Charleston 750, 1200, 1226, 0, 1, 0, 0, 8;
            McClellanville 700, 10, 0, 0, nc, 5, 85, 4; Winyah Bay x, x, 69, 0, 4, 0, 4, 9; Litchfield/Pawley's 0, 0, CW, 1, 0, CW, 1, 9.
   P&G: Winter visitor, farily common on the coast. Maximum 1,203, Awenda/Cape Romain, 28 December 1975. Dates: 31 October - 18 April.
   Avendex: 1 record (maximum above).
   Potter:  Once abundant, populations were decimated by over-hunting, botulism and draining prairie wet lands. In most years, this is now a fairly common winter resident from November to mid-April.
  ●  Rare - accidental. I have seen Canvasbacks regularly at Huntington Beach State Park but not on Seabrook. They might be expected on the lake at Freshfields as it matures.
       
    Banner - Canvasbacks, Huntington Beach State Park
       
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