When the lake freezes over, the birds have to squeeze into a smaller space in the un-iced parts of the lake, but the different species of ducks co-exist surprisingly well considering that they are all after a similar limited food supply of small plants and fish in the constrained area.
In this picture you can see the large Canadian Geese, the male and female Mallards with their wings spread, the small American Coots with their white bills and dark bodies, and lastly, a bunch of Northern Shovelers, standing in the back and floating in the water, dark green head and dark, flat-ended bills, and bodies with white breasts and brown flanks.
It was fascinating to see all these different kinds of birds band together and turn around as one when a few aggressive gulls approached; the gulls were not welcome to this party—perhaps they would not play well with others?—and the ducks soon mobbed the gulls and forced them to go elsewhere.
This jaunty little guy, a Tufted Titmouse, is a kind of bird I usually see hanging out with its cousin, the Black-Capped Chickadee, but this one was foraging all alone. They have a distinct way of flying from a branch down to the ground—they dive bomb straight down headfirst as if they were a gull about to catch a fish, so that even though they’re small, they can be identified from a distance.
This male (the red nape) Downy Woodpecker looks a lot like a miniature version of its larger cousin, the Hairy Woodpecker. They’ve both got very similar markings including a white back, but the Downy is around 6″ compared to the Hairy’s 9″.
One advantage of trying to photograph birds in winter is that you can get a clearer shot without leaves in the way.
Here’s the Ruddy Duck. They’re small and like to travel in large same-species groups. The male and female both have chestnut sides and backs, with sharp tails; the male has white cheek patches. In the photo above you can see two males in the foreground and a female behind them.
This guy looks to me to be an adult male House Finch, though I supose it could be a Purple Finch. I’m going with house finch because there appears to be a bit too much brown on the face for a Purple Finch.
This immature Cooper’s Hawk at the Marine Park Salt Marsh had an eye on a group of Black-capped Chickadees skittering in a bush below it. But the chickadees were wise to the hawk and started raising a ruckus. The hawk flew off in the other direction, gliding low over the dry brown reeds, and then startled me by stopping, turning around, and actually hiding behind a low bush to eye the chickadees. I say hiding, because that’s exactly what the hawk was doing; from time to time the hawk would peek out from behind the bush to see what the chickadees were doing. But the chickadees were wise to the hawk and started their alarm calls even louder. Eventually the hawk gave up, knowing that he had lost the advantage of surprise and swooped again low over the brown reeds, seeking to find more possible prey.