Chattanooga Now Duck ID: Dabblers vs. Divers

Chattanooga Now Duck ID: Dabblers vs. Divers

November 1st, 2017 by Sunny Montgomery in Get Out - Departments

Redhead (Aythya americana)

Photo by Spinus.net

As the expression goes, "If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, then it probably is a duck."

But is it a dabbler or a diver?

"Duck butt" sightings will help you initially ID whether it's a diver or a dabbler.

"Duck butt" sightings will help you initially ID...

Photo by David Wagner

More common throughout the year in southeast Tennessee, the dabbler duck feeds by skimming the water's surface with its large bill. A dabbler can most easily be identified through observation of "duck butt," which is when the bird submerges its head and neck, tipping only its tail out of the water.

Examples of a dabbler include the wood duck (Aix sponsa) and the mallard (Anas platyrhynchos).

The diver duck, on the other hand, feeds by propelling its entire body underwater. Most of these species visit our region only during migration or winter months.

To help you identify visiting divers this season, here is a quick snapshot of some the species you might see in lakes, rivers and marshes around the state.

Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola)

Photo by David Beadle

Bufflehead

(Bucephala albeola)

What: Common migrant and winter resident

When: Late October to late April

Where: Ponds, lakes and rivers

Canvasback (Aythya valisineria)

Photo by Dick Daniels

Canvasback

(Aythya valisineria)

What: Uncommon migrant and winter resident

When: Late October to late March

Where: State and federally protected waterfowl refuges with deep water

Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula)

Photo by Bernard DuPont

Common goldeneye

(Bucephala clangula)

What: Common migrant and uncommon winter resident

When: Early November to early April

Where: State and federally protected waterfowl refuges and other reservoirs

Lesser Scaup (Aythya affinis)

Photo by ALAN SCHMIERER

Lesser scaup

(Aythya affinis)

What: Fairly common winter resident

When: Late October to early May

Where: State and federally protected waterfowl refuges

Hooded mersanger (Lophodytes cucullatus)

Photo by Andrea Westmoreland

Hooded mersanger

(Lophodytes cucullatus)

What: Year-round resident of Tennessee, though locally rare in summer, uncommon in winter and fairly common during fall and spring migration.

When: Year-round, though most common from late October to early May

Where: Ponds, lakes and wooded swamps during non-breeding (winter) season

Red-breasted mersanger (Mergus serrator)

Photo by Spinus Nature Photography

Red-breasted mersanger

(Mergus serrator)

What: Rare winter resident, uncommon migrant

When: Mid-November to early May

Where: Deeper lakes and rivers

Redhead (Aythya americana)

Photo by Spinus.net

Redhead

(Aythya americana)

What: Uncommon winter resident and migrant

When: Early November to late April

Where: Deep lakes and ponds

Ring-necked duck (Aythya collaris)

Photo by Bill Bouton

Ring-necked duck

(Aythya collaris)

What: Fairly common migrant and winter resident, though more common in West and Middle Tennessee

When: Early October to late April

Where: State and federally protected waterfowl refuges