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Old 03-03-2008, 08:15 PM   #1
Tom Phillips*
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Location: Santa Clara, California, USA - - R.I.P. - 1954-2012
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Default Arizona Waterfowl (1 of 2)

Waterfowl Species

American Wigeon
Identification tips:
Male has white patch on top of head with iridescent green checkered pattern on sides of head. Wings have green speculum with white shoulder patch. Foot color is gray.

This elegant puddle duck is common throughout Arizona and prefers wetlands with abundant aquatic vegetation. Often wigeon can be found using shorelines of wetlands where they graze on tender grass shoots. This bird can be found in large flocks of 35 plus birds seeking out resting and feeding areas along Arizona rivers, lakes and stock tanks. Wigeon are excellent to decoy and are less wary then mallard and pintail.

Blue-winged Teal
Identification tips:
Similar to the cinnamon teal both sexes have a powder blue shoulder patch on the wing. The male has a white crescentcheek patch near the bill. Both bill and foot color is dark gray to black.

Blue-winged teal are early migrants to Arizona and often migrate further south out of state by October. Early season hunters will bag a few Blue winged teal which are often confused with cinnamon teal. The hens of the two species are virtually indistinguishable in the field.

Identification tips:
The males of this duck appear to be black and white. The heads have an iridescent puplish/green heads. The female and immature males have a dull gray head with a white cheek patch. Foot color can be bluish gray to nearly pink.

Bufflehead are common throughout the state. The smallest of the divers, bufflehead prefer open water habitats with aquatic submergent vegetation and aquatic invertebrates. The mature male is readily picked up, as it's white breast stands out a quite a distance. This fast flyer often challenges the best of wing shooters as it fly's low over water. Buffleheads will remain on high country water often keeping potholes open even though ice is choking in. Many bufflehead are found on Arizona's lakes and reservoirs and this duck will be attracted to most decoy spreads.

Canada Geese
Identification tips:
The male and female canada geese have the same appearance, but are diferentiated by the smaller size of the female.

Canada geese begin to arrive in Arizona in good numbers along the Colorado River in December. Other areas with good numbers are the White Mountains around Alpine and Saint Johns. A large number of Canada geese also reside near Payson and Roosevelt Lake. Canada Geese prefer to feed near their loafing sites and select areas with green grass forage and grain. These birds are quite habitual and will return to feeding areas if not over harassed by humans. Scout the area and set up decoys pre dawn and you will be rewarded.

Identification tips:
Canvasbacks possess a long sloping black bill as well as black feet. The wings are gray with white and gray vermiculation. The males have a reddish brown head on a white /gray body.

This largest of the Diving species of waterfowl has preference for large open water deep reservoirs and lakes. Feeding on aquatic submergent vegetation, the canvasback is dependent on water quality that allows light penetration and growth of aquatic vegetation. Canvasbacks usually appear later in the season and will utilize higher elevation waters up until ice forces them south.

Cinnamon Teal
Identification tips:
Both sexes of this duck have a powder blue shoulder patch on the wing. Males have a cinnamon color body with a bright red eye. Bills of both sexes are dark gray with the foot color being yellow/orange.

The largest of the teal, cinnamon teal are early arrivers to the state. The cinnamon color of the drakes is quite impressive with a brilliant red eye. Cinnamon teal also nest in Northern Arizona and can be found along most river courses where emergent aquatic food plants exist. Large concentrations of cinnamon teal utilize the mudflats of larger reservoirs such as San Carlos and Roosevelt Lake.

Common Merganser
Identification tips:
The male of the species has a brilliant orange/red bill with an iridescent green head. The body appears white and black, but at closer look has iridescent green color throughout. The feet are reddish orange. The female has a reddish head with gray body. The bill is orange with orange feet. Both male and female have serrated teeth like points on the bill.

The largest of the mergansers, the common merganser is quite common in Arizona. Found on nearly all reservoirs and river courses in the State the merganser will dive for its food that consists of small fish. The serrated bill on mergansers differentiates this duck from other puddle and diving species. Due to its diet the palatability of merganser flesh is questionable.

Identification tips:
Male has gray speckled head with a black rump patch. Both sexes have a white speculum with a cinnamon colored shoulder patch. Foot color yellow/orange.

Gadwall can be found throughout Arizona and can be identified as the only puddle duck possessing a white speculum on the wing. This duck is similar in size to pintail and usually prefer wetlands with aquatic submergent vegetation. Gadwall typically resides in flocks of less than 10 birds and decoy well.
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Old 03-03-2008, 08:17 PM   #2
Tom Phillips*
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Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Santa Clara, California, USA - - R.I.P. - 1954-2012
Posts: 1,230
Default Arizona Waterfowl (2 of 2)

Green-winged Teal
Identification tips:
Male has a cinnamon colored head with a green stripe on the sides. Both sexes have a green speculum on the wing. Bill and foot color is gray to black.

Green wing teal the smallest of puddle ducks are common throughout Arizona. They are early arrivers to the state and can be found along river courses and reservoirs around the desert as early as September. This fast flying species offers excellent wing shooting and also decoys quite well. Although typically in flocks of ten or less, observations of several hundred in on flock have been observed along the Gila River.

Identification tips:
Male has green head with olive green bill. Wings of both sexes have purplish/blue speculum and white underside.

Mallards, the largest of Arizona's puddle ducks are common to Arizona. Concentrations of mallards are typically found near agricultural grain fields that are situated near wetlands or river courses. This species nest throughout the high country of the state namely in the White Mountains and Flagstaff area. Mallards are common on nearly all stock tanks throughout the desert and mountain country. Mallards typically return to feeding areas so scout your hunting area to locate where the birds are feeding. A mallard call can be quite successful in luring this bird to decoy spreads.

Northern Pintail
Identification tips:
Male has chocolate brown head with a slender white strip along the neck. The bill has powder blue strip on each side. Males have long black pointed feather at tail. Wings of both sexes have bronze speculum with gray underside. Foot color ranges from bluish gray to black.

Pintail usually begin arriving in Arizona in October and are found on most of the states larger wetlands and lakes. This shallow water feeder prefers large open water as opposed to small potholes or stock tanks. Pintail are thought to be the wariest of puddle ducks requiring excellent concealment by the hunter. Pintail whistles are quite effective for attracting this duck into gunning range. Decoys are advisable and the larger the spread the better.

Northern Shovler
Identification tips:
Males have green head with light blue shoulder patches on the wings. The bill of both sexes is spatulate (spoon shaped). The primary feathers on the wings have white shafts. Foot color is yellow/orange.

Shovlers or "spoonies" as they are called prefer open water habitats with invertebrates such as daphnia or midge larvae. Shovlers are easily decoyed an often land in a decoy spread even if the hunter is standing up taking a break. Shovlers can be found in large flocks of 20 plus individuals and have a very characteristic "WHOOSH" as they swoop out of the sky to land on a wetland.

Identification tips:
Males have a reddish/brown head with a black chest. The body is gray with gray blue foot color. The wings are gray with a dull speculum.

Redheads are common in Arizona and locally nest in the Flagstaff and White Mountain regions. Slightly smaller than the canvasback they occupy similar habitats. Redheads prefer deep water with aquatic submergent vegetation and are usually found on larger reservoirs and lakes. Red heads can be found in flocks of up to 25 individuals and will decoy very well. These fast flyers will often appear out of nowhere to inspect your decoy spread before turning and attempting to land.

Ring-necked Duck
Identification tips:
The backs of Ring-necked ducks are dark gray to black. The bill of the male has a small ring around the tip. Close inspection will also reveal a brown ring around the neck hence the name. Both sexes have gray speculum with a tint of iridescnet green and gray feet.

"Ringies" as they're called are found throughout Arizona on a variety of wetland habitats. Often found on stock tanks throughout the state, this small diver prefers deeper open water areas. This duck often occurs in large flocks up to 50 birds. They are fast flyers and will decoy well.

Ruddy Duck
Identification tips:
During the fall and winter months this duck will appear a dull gray/brown. The tail of both sexes has stiff characteristic that sticks up more than out when the duck swims. The bills of both sexes appear somewhat spatulate but not as obvious as the shovler.

Ruddy ducks are common in Arizona and will nest in some of the wetlands in the high country. These ducks typically prefer to dive rather than fly and hunters can usually approach the bird quite close before it dives to the safety of the water world only to resurface out of gunning range. This often overlooked duck as far as table fare can be quite good. Ruddies are typically found on large open water habitats and will form large flocks loafing on lakes and reservoirs during the fall and winter months.

Greater/Lesser Scaup
Identification tips:
Both scaup species have white speculums on the wings with it extending out towards the primaries on the greater scaup. Also known as blue bills the scaup have a blue bill. Foot color is gray/black. Scaup have light colored backs with dark green/iridescent heads.

Both scaup species can be found in Arizona and utilize a variety of wetland habitats. Typically found on reservoirs and lakes scaup feed on aquatic submergent vegetation and invertebrate animals. Scaup will also utilize river courses in Arizona and are often found on stock tanks. This duck will decoy easily and typically will appear in small flocks of less than 10.
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