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Birds of Yosemite National Park (1954, 1963) by Cyril A. Stebbins and Robert C. Stebbins


GOOSE-LIKE BIRDS: Order Anseriformes

DUCKS, GEESE, AND SWANS: Family Anatidae

CANADA GOOSE
CANADA GOOSE
CANADA GOOSE (Branta canadensis): 23-42 in. Plumage generally brownish-gray above; belly and flanks gray to chocolate (western Canada goose); under tail coverts and rump white; head and neck black; white bib extends well up on sides of head; partial white collar sometimes present near base of black neck. The four sub-species show a considerable range in size — honker Canada goose, 35-42 in.; western C. g., 35 in.; lesser C. g., 25-34 in.; and cackling C. g., 23-25 in.

Frequents lakes, reservoirs, quiet water of larger streams, marshes, and wet grassland. C.V. to Yosemite region. Has been seen on Mirror Lake and the Merced River.


MALLARD
MALLARD
MALLARD (Anal platyrhynchos): 20-28 in. Head and upper neck glossy, dark green; fore-neck and breast ruddy; narrow white collar, incomplete behind; speculum—the wing patch, a pigmented area of the wing involving the secondary feathers—blue, bordered on each side by white; tail white with black center; flanks gray; bill yellowish; feet reddish-orange. Female: Above generally mottled brown; dark line through eye bordered above with buffy; top of head and back of neck dark brown; below light brown; bluish wing-patch bordered on each side by white. In flight, compartively slow wingstrokes with downward sweep reaching little below level of body; under side of wings silvery white. Voice of female a loud, frequently repeated quack; that of male weaker. Often seeks its food with head under water and tail in the air.

Frequents tule - bordered freshwater ponds, rivers, and marshes. Has been noted as a C.V. on the Merced River in Yosemite Valley and in little Yosemite Valley. Recorded nesting to an elevation of about 7,500 feet.

CINNAMON TEAL (Anas cyanoptera): 15 1/2-17 in. Head and neck dark cinnamon; brown wings with large area of blue; green speculum, bordered by white; upper back chestnut, grading into brown; under surface of wings white; under parts cinnamon changing to black on belly; iris red. Female: Above dark brown, marked with gray; below grayish; breast spotted with brown; large blue patch on forepart of wing.

S.V. on freshwater lakes and ponds. Widespread in spring and fall migration. C.V. to Yosemite region, most likely to be seen in spring.

BLUE-WINGED TEAL (Anas discors): 14-16 in. Head gray with a large white crescent between eye and bill; large blue patch in wing which may appear whitish; below dark gray, spotted with black; bill black; feet yellowish. Female: Mottled brown with blue patch on forepart of wing; not as rusty or as coarsely mottled as female cinnamon teal.

Frequents freshwater ponds and slowly moving streams. C.V. to Yosemite region. Has been observed in Yosemite Valley.

GREEN-WINGED TEAL (Anas carolinensis): 12 1/2-1 S Y2 in. Generally gray; head brown with iridescent green patch showing in bright sunlight on side of head; conspicuous white mark in front of wing; speculum green; upper breast reddish-brown, spotted with black; remaining under parts white; under tail coverts black with creamy areas laterally; bill lead-colored; feet bluish-gray. Female: No white in wing; speculum green.

C.V. to the Yosemite region.

PINTAIL (Anas acute): 26-30 in. Head and portion of fore-neck dark brown; hind-neck dark; rest of neck, breast, and belly white; white line on side of neck extending well up onto side of head; long, black, middle tail feathers; area under tail black, bordered laterally by white. Female: Head, neck, and back generally brown; back streaked with buff and black; no blue speculum; below whitish; bill blue-gray; white border on rear of wings, seen in flight. Usually nests on dry ground near ponds or lakes.

C. V. to the Yosemite region.

AMERICAN WIDGEON
AMERICAN WIDGEON
AMERICAN WIDGEON (Mareca americana): 18-22 in. Forehead and crown white; sides of head dark, with greenish iridescence; breast and sides brownish tinged with pink; area under tail black; white on flanks posteriorly; broad white area near wing-bend seen in flight, reduced in female, not present in immature; remaining under parts white; bill bluish with black tip. Female: Flanks ruddy - brown; head and neck gray; small white area near bend of wing, seen in flight.

W.V. or M. throughout California, chiefly on freshwater marshes, lakes, and streams. C.V. on lakes and slower streams of Yosemite region.

SHOVELER (Spatula clypeata): 17-20 in. Head and upper neck greenishblack; back whitish with dark area down middle; wing grayish-blue at bend; white of breast and flanks separated by reddish-brown on sides; black region under tail; belly chestnut; long shovel-shaped black bill, wider at tip than at base, giving bird front-heavy appearance in flight; sits low in water. Female: Plumage generally brown, mottled; large blue wingpatch and large bill as in male.

Chiefly on fresh water but also frequents brackish water. Occasionally a few breed in the park. On open streams and lakes in Yosemite region at almost any time of year, but rarely seen.

WOOD DUCK
WOOD DUCK
WOOD DUCK (Aix sponsa): 17-20 in. Feathers on top of head green; extending into crest of violet; sides of head black with two white lines, one above, other behind eye; throat white; wings mottled with black, white, and purple; fan-shaped tail; breast chestnut; under parts generally white; reddish area across base of bill. Female: Top of head dark; face brownish; white ring around eye extending backward; throat and belly white; breast brownish; mottled with lighter; rear edge of wing in region of secondary feathers white, as in male. Faltering, often noisy in flight; takes wing abruptly; may move head about while flying. Commonly feeds on acorns. Nests in tree cavities.

Frequents slowly flowing rivers, sloughs, and ponds of fresh water, especially where bordered by deciduous woods. R. principally in Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys. C.V. in Yosemite region. Seen at all months in Yosemite Valley, occasionally nesting there.


CANVASBACK
CANVASBACK
CANVASBACK (Aythya valisineria): 20-24 in. Back and sides nearly white; head and upper portion of neck reddish-brown; long dark bill forming with head a gently sloping profile; tail and rear of back black; breast black; remaining under parts white. Female: Back and sides largely light gray; head and neck light brown; obscure light-colored streak back of eye; throat whitish; breast dark brown; remaining under parts whitish. After taking off slowly, leaving wake behind, travels with great speed. Long bill and neck give bird front-heavy aspect. An expert diver.

Common W.V., chiefly along the coast but also to larger inland bodies of water. C.V. in Yosemite Valley.


RING-NECKED DUCK
RING-NECKED DUCK
RING-NECKED DUCK (Aythya collaris): 16-18 in. Head and upper neck purplish-black; back and breast blackish; gray of sides and black breast separated by curving white band extending some distance upward; belly white; black area under tail; narrow band of white at base of slate-colored bill with wider white band with bluish tinge adjacent to black of tip; narrow chestnut ring on neck sometimes visible; broad gray stripe in wing, seen in flight. Female: Generally brown; white eyering; small area of white about base of bill; bill similar to male but duller; broad gray wing-stripe.

C.V. to Merced River and Mirror Lake in Yosemite Valley, December to March.


LESSER SCAUP
LESSER SCAUP
LESSER SCAUP (Aythya affinis): 15-18 in. Head, neck, breast, and anterior back black; head with purplish reflections in bright light; central region of back white with faint, wavy black lines; belly and sides white; black area under tail; white stripe along posterior portion of wing essentially confined to secondary feathers; bill bluish with black tip; iris yellow. Female: Head, neck, and breast brown; white area about base of bill; below dull white; wing-stripe as in male.

On fresh or salt water, chiefly along the coast in winter. C.V. to Yosemite region.

BARROW’S GOLDENEYE (Bucephala islandica): 21-23 in. Head glossy black with purplish iridescence; white triangular or crescent-shaped spot between eye and bill; back of neck white; middle of back and tail black; large amount of white in wing seen both when wing extended and closed; white of closed wing crossed by black bar; row of white spots on black scapulars; below white; bill blackish; iris yellow. Female: Head brown; white collar; remaining upper parts generally gray; white patch in wing.

Frequents small lakes in timbered areas of higher mountains in summer; in winter chiefly in coastal waters. S.V. to Sierra. In Yosemite region recorded as nesting at Smedberg Lake, 9,223 feet, and at Table Lake, 7,000 feet; one record for Pleasant Valley.

RUDDY DUCK
RUDDY DUCK
RUDDY DUCK (Oxyura jamaicensis): 14-17 in. Predominantly rusty red in summer; top of head black; cheeks and chin white; bluish, shovel-shaped bill; tail feathers stiff and pointed, often held erect; white area under tail; under parts silvery with dusky markings. Female: Above, grayish-brown; below whitish; top of head dark brown, sides of head whitish broken by brown line from bill through eye; bill dusky. Male in winter: Similar to female but with blue bill and white cheek-patch. In flight small, with thick neck and flat head. Dives frequently.

Occurs principally on fresh water. C.V. to Yosemite region.

HARLEQUIN DUCK (Histrionicus histrionicus): 15-17 in. General coloration dark with slaty blue, appears nearly black at a distance; conspicuous white markings on head and neck; long white crescent in front of eye, extending well back over eye; several white marks on side of face; narrow white neck-ring; white bar in front of bend of wing; flanks reddish-brown. Female: Dark brown with two or three white patches on side of head, one or two in front of eye, and one in ear region; no white patch in wing.

Frequents swift-flowing streams in summer and rough water of the exposed coast in winter. Uncommon R. Breeds on the western slope of the central Sierra. Breeding record for the Merced River in Yosemite Valley.

BUFFLEHEAD
BUFFLEHEAD
BUFFLEHEAD (Bucephala albeola): 13-15 in. Fluffy, black head crossed just back of eye by large white patch reaching from eye to eye over crown; upper neck and under parts white; extensive white patch in wing; bill bluish-gray. Female: Upper parts dark gray including head; an elongate, white area on side of head; white patch in open wing. In flight may give deep guttural notes; wings vibrate rapidly; appears stocky with large head; takes off heavily, leaving wake behind. Nests in tree cavities.

Frequents bays and saltwater sloughs and, interiorly, fresh and alkaline lakes and ponds. C.V. to Yosemite region.

HOODED MERGANSER (Lophodytes cucullatus): 16-19 in. Head, neck, and anterior part of back black; broad white bar from behind eye to near rear margin of head; white patch extends into fan-shaped area when crest elevated; breast white; two black bars in front of wing; flanks reddish-brown; wings with white area, barred with black; iris yellow. Female: Dark head and neck; pale reddish - brown crest; white patch in wing. Entire body held level in flight. Nests in tree hollows.

Frequents ponds and slowly flowing streams bordered by willows; occurs on sloughs in marshlands. Several winter and spring records for Yosemite.

COMMON MERGANSER
COMMON MERGANSER
COMMON MERGANSER (Mergus merganser): 22-27 in. Head and upper neck greenish-black; hind-neck inconspicuously crested; upper back black; lower back and tail gray; neck and under parts white, latter tinged with salmon; long, narrow, red, serrated, hooked bill; feet and iris red. Female and immature: Crest usually conspicuous; throat white; head and upper neck orange-brown; back and tail gray; white patch in black wing; below whit=. In flight entire body held horizontally.

W.V. coastwise and interiorly. Breeds on forest-bordered lakes and streams in the Sierra Nevada. In Yosemite breeding records for Hetch Hetchy Reservoir and Yosemite Valley; C.V. in winter.



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