Although the days are still hot here in the Phoenix area, there are signs that summer is sliding into fall: migrating Red-tailed hawks soaring over the park this morning, and over Papago Buttes a couple of accipiters (probably Cooper’s hawks) swirling through a cloud of White-throated swifts, hoping for a quick fistful of breakfast on the wing; also, cooler nights and a less intense light from the sun not rising quite so high in the sky. It’s about time for our wintering ducks to start arriving at desert lakes, both genuine and artificial, in both wild and suburban settings. The Phoenix Zoo is a great place to see wintering waterfowl: here’s a picture of a Ring-necked duck on the entrance pond.
Ring-necked ducks confuse people who have just met them: Looking at the obviously ringed bill pattern, they often ask: Why aren’t they called Ring-billed ducks? This white ring around the end of the bill is visible at a distance, in nearly all light conditions. The eponymous ring around the neck is much less frequently seen, but it shows in this un-enhanced photo: a deep chestnut almost iridescent maroon band between the chin and the breast of this natty adult bird.