The original title to this picture on Flickr was 'What the hell are these ducks?' I thought they bore a slight similarity to some kind of mergansers, but I couldn't figure out what they really were even after poring over every guidebook I owned. Once again I was saved by a generous Flickr friend who told me what species I had photographed. This time it was Nathan Beaulne, also known as pwtphotography (form. multilanebrain aka Nathan)who solved the mystery. He told me I had captured two juvenile Hooded Mergansers.
Some of you might remember that I posted photos of Hooded Mergansers last year. I know what Hooded Mergansers look like, and they look nothing like this! Here are some photos of adult Hooded Mergansers taken by two of my other Flickr friends in case you forget what they look like.
Hooded Merganser 1originally uploaded by colographicalchemy
Nice 'Do!, originally uploaded by Rhode2Boston
You can understand my confusion, right? Hooded Mergansers, both male and female, are as about as distinctive a bird as you will ever see. Instantly recognizable.
They don't look at all like these two, do they?
Would you have known what kind of duck this was? If so, how? What field marks identify it? What field guide would be useful for making an ID of juvenile ducks? This is another example of the perils of birding in the fall. Even species you know well don't look anything like themselves!