It’s not in the neighborhood, but it’s not far away, either. And it shouldn’t be here at all.
East Point at the Montlake Fill, Saturday morning.
It’s been a great winter for bird watchers.
First there was the irruption of Snowy Owls, who are still dotting the landscape mostly to the north of us. One was reported in Maple Leaf in early December. Here’s a photo of one sitting on the roof of the Ballard Library.
Now there’s a Tufted Duck (TUDU, to bird banders) at the Montlake Fill. And dozens of birders there watching him. (If you want to find him, look for the crowd.)
Here’s what bird guru David Allen Sibley has to say about Tufted Ducks, in his Field Guide to Birds of Western North America.
Very rare visitor from Eurasia, mostly along coast; records are of single birds on ponds or sheltered bays….Male distinctive: black back and rounded black head with long dangling tuft.
I last saw a Tufted Duck in 1999, but not in Seattle. In Reykjavik.
The duck was first reported Friday by Constance Sidles, the guru of the Montlake Fill (aka Union Bay Natural Area). She says the bird is often just off the Fill’s East Point.
“It’s a male TUDU with quite a long tuft and black back, just a classic Tufted Duck straight out of the bird books…..
“Something I did not know: He can control his tuft. Sometimes he would stick it out from his head, other times he would flatten it against his head and neck. Sometimes he would make his tuft smooth; other times he let it get ragged. Before he dove, he would always flatten it so tightly he looked like a regular duck, not the exotic stranger he really is.”