There are many birds with confusing or even misleading names. The Redhead is not one of them. This mighty handsome duck was one of the few holdouts I had still not seen this winter, and was one of the ducks I have been wanting to see the most. It seems to have a similar body and beak coloration to the Ring-Necked Duck and Lesser Scaup, and but it's sighted less frequently than its other diving-duck relatives.
There were several reports of Redheads throughout Phoenix these last couple months, and yet I continued to strike out in my search for this handsome bird. The most recent report mentioned a solitary duck at the Kiwanis Park in Tempe, AZ. I stopped by after work and could not find the fowl, which made me 0 for 3 in my specific attempts at a Redhead this year.
I took a detour to Grenada Park after work on Wednesday, and for some reason that I can't quite explain, I was feeling lucky. Maybe it was some residual fillip from the Phainopepla sightings last weekend. It may have been the sense that Redheads were somewhere in the area, and since I hadn't visited Grenada in a while they might've creeped in. Whatever the reason, I felt good about my prospects, and sure enough there was this sleepy male floating all by his lonesome.
This is the first Redhead I've seen and, needless to say, the only one that I've seen or heard of at Grenada Park. In fact, I've never seen other migrants but Ring-Necks and Wigeons (the two most common) at the Park, so this was a great bit of fortune.
As I sat down to get on a better level with the duck, it actually perked up and started to head over my way--a probable indicator that he has been at Grenada long enough to learn about people coming by and feeding the birds.
I had to disappoint Mr. Redhead in that regard, but he did not disappoint me (which is not to say that I ate him)! They're such striking birds in all of the pictures and field guides. Even with the cloudy skies and murky pond water, the definition and color on the Redhead were outstanding.
The Redhead is stunning, especially with the vivid orange eye. I'd never before noticed the black detail on the beak. There's a nice outline at the base of the bill, and a curious black stripe though the nostrils. I'll definitely have to try back for some more time with this beautiful bird.
**Here are some more recent photos, taken on 02/11/2012