. . . although this is not to say that I don't like mallards. The glossy green feathers on the male are strikingly beautiful, no less so because it's a common species.
But until two weeks ago, and our Master Naturalist Class visit with expert birder Larry Weeks to the ponds at Smurfit-Stone, I had no idea what a spectacular variety of waterfowl we have here in western Montana.
It was a cold, blustery day (so windy, in fact, that our eyes teared up while we tried to look through our binoculars, and the spotting scopes shook in the gusts and nearly fell over once or twice), but birders, I am learning, don't let paltry things like wind, cold, snow, rain, hail, etc., keep them from their naturalist duty. Despite the challenges, we were able to see and identify more than 20 bird species.
Until this field trip, I tended to look at a flock of waterfowl on a pond or river and think, "Oh, it's just a bunch of ducks." I.e., they're all the same. Little did I know.
Species we saw:
Northern Pintail (see below)
American Wigeon (see below)
Green-winged Teal (see below)
Ring-necked Duck (see below)
Redhead (see below)
Bufflehead (see below)
And . . . oh, yes, the Mallard!