Sometimes Bird Identification is Hard.


Ok, I confess I am not an expert birder. I am more of a novice despite decades of watching birds. On a good day, I could maybe make the argument to bring it up an intermediate level but most days I struggle with identifying birds. Most waterfowl are, however, fairly easy for me to identify but the operative word here is “most”.

blue winged teal

With that said, two species of teal always throw me for a loop. The cinnamon and blue winged teal. More precisely the female members of these species are where I struggle the most with the waterfowl world or birding. They are very similar in their plumage I can never tell them apart unless there is a fully colored drake nearby.

blue winged teal

Unfortunately, on this particular day I had no such luck. I can’t say if this bird is an eclipse drake or a hen as these shots were taken during late summer when most drakes are in their eclipse molt and look very similar to the hens so it is quite possible it could be a drake hiding in its summer attire.

blue winged teal

The next question here is also just as puzzling for me. Is it a blue winged teal or a cinnamon teal? Both have similar patches of blue on their wings and look quite similar, at least to me. Yes, on this day I would have to downgrade my status to novice birder despite 30 years of watching ducks. Either way, blue winged or cinnamon teal, it was great to get out and watch and also photograph these beautiful birds as they take in the late summer sun.

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