Cheryl Huizinga first saw the bird. Denise Hughes and Kathy West also observed the bird. It was seen later that day by several birders after sighting was reported to IBLE. Some of them were Bryce Robinson, Mary Rumple, Kathy Lopez, and Jon Curd. Later that day Stodddard and Ellen Davenport also saw the bird. It was seen again the next day by several more birders. Most reported their sighting to ebird and attached photos.
LOCALITY OF OBSERVATION
Mountain Home Reservoir – Elmore County, Idaho
HABITAT WHERE THE BIRD WAS OBSERVED
SIGHTING DURATION, CONDITIONS, and EQUIPMENT USED
It was mid-afternoon with great lighting conditions. It was sunny, warm with hardly any breeze. After seeing the bird and reporting it to ible, we continued to watch it for quite some time waiting for others to show up so we could point out where the bird was in the reservoir. We were using a Zeiss Victory 20x60 scope.
DID YOU TAKE NOTES?
No, not at all
DID YOU CONSULT A FIELD GUIDE OR OTHER REFERENCE WORK?
Yes, during the observation
WHICH GUIDE(S) OR REFERENCE(S): DID YOU CONSULT?
We looked at Sibley app on iphone during the sighting.
DESCRIPTION OF THE BIRD(s)
Duck family. Scaup-like duck with very distinct line between the dark upper half of body (looked like a dark saddle) and white lower half with diagnostic long dark tuft of feathers dangling from top of the head down along the rear of the head and neck.
BEHAVIOR OF THE BIRD(s)
In with other duck species, mostly LESC - actively diving, swimming and preening.
HOW AND WHEN DID YOU POSITIVELY IDENTIFY THE BIRD, AND WHAT CLINCHED THE IDENTIFICATION FOR YOU?
I was scoping the ducks in the reservoir when we first arrived and barely got started when I saw the TUDU. I immediately noticed the black back and long plume off the back of its head and called “Tufted Duck” to my fellow birders, Denise and Kathy. I followed the duck with my scope watching as it dove and swam around. Denise and Kathy took a look, confirmed the ID and Denise posted the sighting to ible. We got on our iphone apps to show Kathy, who is a novice birder, that we were really looking at a rare bird, and then continued to watch it.
HOW DID YOU ELIMINATE SIMILAR SPECIES? WHAT WERE THEY?
The other Aythya species it is related to would be Lesser Scaup, Greater Scaup. and Ring-necked Duck. Two of these species were in the same area as the TUDU – GRSC was not. I can eliminate two of them because the LESC and GRSC have grayish backs (TUDU has black back) and can eliminate the RNDU which does have a black back but also a white spur along the front of its sides which the TUDU does not have. The RNDU also has a distinct ring around its bill which the TUDU does not have. And none of them have the long dangling black tuft coming off the back of the head.
WHAT IS YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH THIS (AND SIMILAR) SPECIES?
I have seen two other TUDU. One was in Washington in 2012. I took a trip there with 2 other birders just to see a TUDU that had been reported there. The other TUDU was on March 10, 2017, in Canyon Co., Idaho, for which I wrote up another Rare Bird Report. I have seen numerous Aythya species in Idaho and knew when I saw this TUDU that it was different than any of those.
DESCRIBE YOUR GENERAL BIRDING EXPERIENCE
Intermediate birder with 16 years’ experience.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION (If any)
Very interesting that there was the Canyon Co. sighting of a TUDU just 1 year and 1 day ago.
I digiscoped the photo with a PhoneSkope attached to my scope and cropped to get closer look at details. Others also took photos
WERE PHOTO(S), VIDEO, AND/OR AUDIO OBTAINED FROM THIS SIGHTING?
FIRST ROUND VOTING:
Description and photo support identification of Tufted Duck.
Photo and description are good.
I'm convinced that this was a male Tufted Duck.
While the description was light, enough key marks were noted, and attached photo diagnostic, such that acceptance straight forward.
Photo and description are convincing
Photo appears to be diagnostic of a pure drake Tufted Duck. Scaup and Ring-necked are easily eliminated. Write-up does not include a discussion/elimination of a hybrid, but the photo shows no signs of hybridization. The overall plumage pattern is right on for Tufted and lacks the white shoulder spur, there is no sign of a ring on the bill (should probably be detectable from the blurry photo), and hybrids typically have a reduced/short tuft, rather than the nice long tuft shown by this individual. March appears to be a good time for this species in our region.
Note: after writing the above comments, I found additional photos of this individual on eBird that better show the lack of ring on the bill and other features.