Readers’ wildlife photos

July 4, 2018 • 8:15 am

Today’s photos are a batch from Colin Franks, whose infrequent but wonderful contributions are much appreciated. (His website is here, his Instagram site here, and Facebook page here). The IDs, indented, are his; click photos to enlarge. The fourth picture from the bottom asks you to identify a species of scaup.

Western Grebe, Aechmophorus occidentalis:

Yellow-headed Blackbird, Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus:

Tree Swallow, Tachycineta bicolor:

Chukar, Alectoris chukar:


Red-necked Grebe, Podiceps grisegena:


Great Grey Owl, Strix nebulosa:


Scaup (Quiz: Lesser or Greater?)  Aythya affinis or marila?

Horned GrebesPodiceps auritus:


Ruddy Duck, Oxyura jamaicensis:

Common LoonGavia immer [JAC: note the chicks!]

18 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

    1. Me too. I vaguely remember the mnemonic of “Greater, green” for scaup head color as a way to distinguish them, and this one looks greenish at least on my computer. Luckily there are only two species here, since the other one is purplish and that doesn’t work with lesser (or anything else).

    1. Lesser also has a nail at the end of its bill, though it tends to be smaller. Deciding whether a particular duck is Lesser or Greater Scaup is often very difficult. Head shape is usually the best clue, with Lesser having a peak at the rear of its crown due to a small crest, whereas the Greater has the high point of its crown further forward. Telling them apart this way doesn’t work when the bird is alert and craning its neck, like the duck in the photo, because Lesser will sleek its crown feathers down. On very sunny days adult male Greaters in “good” plumage will usually shown green iridescence on the head, whereas Lesser males show dark purply, but iridescence can be deceiving.

      I see lots of Lesser Scaup and a few Greater Scaup every year, the latter usually only in the fall. It’s nice when the two species are together–identification becomes a lot easier! For what it’s worth I think the bird in the photo is a Lesser, but I’m not 100% sure.

      The main thing is that the photos are truly superb.

  1. Everyone has used up the good adjectives! So, I will just say I’m blown away, and very grateful. Thanks!

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