Long-tailed Ducks are back for the winter from the north, where they nested on tundra ponds and marshes. These diving ducks spend the winter in deep salt water, often in sheltered bays. Long-tailed Ducks are far more vocal than most ducks, a feature that has earned them a host of charming nicknames, including "John Connally," "My Aunt Huldy," and, from the Cree language, "Ha-hah-way."
The Music of Long-tailed Ducks
Written by Bob Sundstrom
This is BirdNote!
[Water lapping] [Long-tailed Ducks calling several times]
It’s one of those clear, quiet winter mornings on the bay. [Water lapping] The silence is broken by a series of loud, insistent calls. [Long-tailed Ducks calling.]
What’s the source of this wild refrain? There, a hundred yards out where the water deepens, is a small cluster of seaducks, dressed mostly in white. They’re Long-tailed Ducks, back for the winter from nesting far to the north. [Long-tailed Ducks calling several times]
Long-tailed Ducks are named for the male’s plumage: long, slender tail-plumes extend almost a foot behind his body. And he holds his rapier tail cocked at a jaunty angle.
Long-tailed Ducks are far more vocal than most ducks, a feature that has earned them a host of charming nicknames. [Long-tailed Duck calling] The name that probably comes closest to capturing the sound of the male’s call is from the Cree language – “Ha-hah-way.” [Long-tailed Duck calling]
This winter, along either coast or on the Great Lakes, listen – for Long-tailed Ducks. [Long-tailed Duck calling] By listening, you’ll have an advantage. Because they can be hard to spot! When they’re feeding, Long-tailed Ducks spend a lot of time under water – and they can dive as deep as two hundred feet!
Even so, you can get a good look at a Long-tailed Duck on our website, BirdNote.org. I’m Michael Stein. [Long-tailed Duck calling]
Call of the Long-tailed Duck provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Recorded by G. Vyn.
Ambient recorded by Kessler Productions.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2014 Tune In to Nature.org December 2016/2020 Narrator: Michael Stein
ID# 120106LTDUKPLU LTDU-01c