Birds of Seabrook Island

COAST BIRDS
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ANECDOTES

  Redhead
 
 

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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.   
 
A Redhead in the lake...
 
     
  Redhead, Aythya americana
 
   Cornell     USGS     Wiki     ToL     EoL
        WINTER - Occasional / Rare (local)
            MARSHES (fresh water - summer), SOUNDS, BAYS, ESTUARIES (salt or brackish water
             in winter)
 
   Redheads are smaller ducks  with a puffy, round head. Males have a blue bill with a black tip and a rufous head and neck. The belly is black and the body is gray. Females have a plain, soft brown body.
Redhead
  Redhead
   
Redheads. Ace Basin NWR. Photos by Ed Konrad
 
  RANGE: Redheads breed in western North America with a population in Central Alaska and continuously from the southern edge of the North West Territories south through the Dakotas to Colorado and the Pacific Northwest. A population also breeds in the central California valley. They winter along both coasts and up the Mississippi and Ohio River drainage to the Great Lakes. Their southern limits in winter are Guatemala, Cuba, Jamaica, and the Bahamas.
  BREEDING: Monogamous. One brood. Females build a heavy basket of rushes or cattails anchored to  matted aquatic vegetation in dense marsh. They occasionally build on the ground. The nest is lined with fine materials and down. They usually lay 9-14 eggs but laying is complicated by nest parasitism. Most females are parasitic to some extent, laying eggs in nests of other birds then raising a clutch of their own. "Dump nests" with up to 80+ eggs are never incubated.
   Incubation lasts 23-29 days and young are precocial. They are led away to water within a day after hatching. They can fly at 56-73 days.
  DIET: They eat aquatic vegetation - leaves, stems, seeds, and roots. They also eat aquatic insects plus mollusks and some small fish. They forage by diving or by dabbling and upending. In shallow lagoons in winter, they do most of the feeding by dipping the head underwater.
  VOICE: Female utters a soft, low, nasal "grehp" or a harsher "squak."
  NOTES:
   Checklists -
      Kiawah - rare fall and spring; occasional winter. Cape Romain - occasional/absent/uncommon/common.
         Huntington Beach
- uncommon, October - March; rare, April.
      Caw Caw - uncommon spring. ACE - rare, winter and spring.
      Coastal - uncommon winter visitor. Hilton Head - uncommon winter visitor.
   CBC: ACE 0, 2, 0, 2, 0, 0, 3, 3; Charleston 100, 19, 107, 0, 0, 0, 31, 2;
            St. Helena/Fripp x, x, x, x, x, x, 1, 0; Hilton Head 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 4, 0, 35; Sun City/Okatie 0, 0, 0, 1, 2, 0, 0, 0;
            McClellanville 250, 0, 0, 2, nc, 17, 7, 44; Winyah Bay x, x, 3, 0, 0, CW, 0, 11; Litchfield/Pawley's 0, 1, 1, 0, 24, 0, 6, 14.
   P&G: Fairly common migrant, uncommon winter visitor. Dates 31 October - 18 April.
   Avendex: 1 record.
   Potter; Uncommon winter resident - likely in salty or brackish waters of sounds, bays, and estuaries. It is more common along the North Carolina coast.
  ●  I haven't seen a Redhead on Seabrook. They are regular visitors at Huntington Beach State Park. Keep an eye out for them on Freshfields and Palmetto Lakes. Rare in migration - accidental in winter.
   
   

A Redhead in the lake...
Herein lies a story - as an undergraduate I attended the University of Colorado where Redheads are regularly found in lakes on the prairie. There is a pond on campus called Varsity Lake where freshmen women were regularly "dunked" as a part of hazing. Dr. Gordon Alexander was Head of Zoology in those days and was the resident ornithologist. One of the students knowing this, ran into his office breathlessly asking, "Have you ever seen a redhead in Varsity Pond?" The disconnect was that the student had seen a duck while Gordon's first vision was of a wet, red-headed coed...
       
    Banner - Varsity Pond, University of Colorado.
       
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