Monday, March 11, 2013

Mystery "punker bird" and pig-walking

Geez! The winter birds are still around and the Red-winged Blackbirds are back! In a week, I shot so many memories! I am working on some tonight.

But here tonight I only start with a trip to the DNR launch site (Harley Ensign) at the end of South River Road in Macomb County last week. I told my Facebook friends we saw a lovely woman walking a pig and some suggested they needed proof. :) I post a few pics here. I will drop the URL to FB friends. And, no, I sadly did not see the Gyrfalcon reported there earlier...

Before the pig-walker, I saw a very strange bird that I need help to identify! I called it a "punker duck". See below ...

So, FB friends, here is the lovely gal walking her pig on a bright sunny day in the mid-40s.Yes really!!!

Judy and I saw them from afar, and wondered. Weird dog? No - a pig!

Cute gal! Cute pig!

Judy just had to pet it! She started at the head end. "What is the pig's name"? "Dino"  - "my boyfriend thought it was a good Italian name".

By the time Judy got to the other end ... pig tail! Huh?

Note: in my recollections of the incident, I thought a pig probably would not have been much protection for a pretty girl walking in an area away from much traffic.Then, I remembered she was accompanied by her mother with a massive pit bull on a leash. And, the pit bull seemed to not like my appearance. Whew! I love leashed dogs!!!  (Note:...if you are a pretty girl and take your pig for a walk, be sure to take a pit bull mother and her pit bull dog along...! At one point the mother had to remind the dog "it's only Dino...") Whew!

Before that encounter, I had gone before Judy along the trail on the other side of the peninsula, shooting a weird new duck. I ask all of my birder friends to help with an ID - please.

I am thinking a female Common Goldeneye with a deformed bill? It was solitary. It is really strange! I called it a "punker duck" as I thought about some of the FB things people post of young adults (and some not so young) with bizarre disfigurations. As I see it, it looks like something triggered the genes of the bill to go crazy (i.e., cancer?) and make a horny (no - not horney) substance grow from the lower mandible. Bizarre!  
But, birders, check out the yellow on bill. Possibly a hybrid with Barrow's Goldeneye? There are no pics in the guides to help me here. I need your experience! Thanks!!!

I do have a few more pics, but the silly bird always kept moving away. I suspect it is just a deformation - but of which species???

Anyway, it was a great day to be "out and about"! Certainly the first time I shot a "punker duck" and a pretty lady walking her pig!


Anonymous said...

Hey Dr. Bob ! The duck is a hen (female)Common Goldeneye with a growth or deformed lower mandible. I have seen that duck and had a few pictures of her but deleted them.I do have a picture of a Coppers Hawk with a deformed beak that was taken in the same area. I will let you know when I post the picture on my Flickr page.
Mike Dee

"Dr. Bob" said...

Thanks Mike! Yes, I had a few other birders confirm the female Common Goldeneye ID. It is quite interesting that you also saw the same duck! I can only wonder when the damage to the bill might have occurred, but it looks like it was some time ago, and growth happened around the insult. Certainly the bird seems to have continued to survive - albeit as a "punker bird" as I called it. As long as it does not interfere with feeding, it seems OK. But, I do note the bird was solitary - maybe not so good for social interactions?!