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6 minutes ago, akiley said:

Redhead.

Just curious how easy that is to determine...  I was comparing the two in sibley's and, the shape of the head fits redhead better but the pale patch behind the bill and what kind of looks like what could be a pale spur on the side of the bird shown in the first picture match ring-necked better.  This is one of those birds that if they were my pictures, I'd also be in here asking for help I believe. :) 
I feel the bill could go either way...  but I have to say sometimes it's difficult for me to go by sibley's as drawings and photographs just aren't the same thing.

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Everything fits Redhead perfect, I never really considered these similar species, but I guess that's just because you never see them together, Ring-necks are always on ponds and Redheads are always on lakes. Head shape is a key difference, and the tones of Redhead is warmer I think. A caution to only relying on Sibley: It's only one source, and it's impossible to illustrate a species perfectly, especially when not every bird looks the same. Using all about birds and google images can help a lot too, just be careful that the photo is labelled correctly!

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Agree with female Redhead here. As was stated above that white mark, the facial marking is fine for female Redhead.... Remembering that there can be  variation between individual birds.

@ egosnell2002... In my experience, Redheads usually mix in with Scaup, but I have seen plenty of times where all 3 species (Redheads, Ring-neckeds and Scaup) are on the same small body of water.

@ Millipede...as with many species, the more you see this species(even females), it will become easier to differentiate them. I always recommend using a field guide with true pics as well as one with drawings, as both have pros and cons, but used together can often give a clearer understanding of field marks, plumages, etc.

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13 hours ago, birdbrain22 said:

Agree with female Redhead here. As was stated above that white mark, the facial marking is fine for female Redhead.... Remembering that there can be  variation between individual birds.

@ egosnell2002... In my experience, Redheads usually mix in with Scaup, but I have seen plenty of times where all 3 species (Redheads, Ring-neckeds and Scaup) are on the same small body of water.

@ Millipede...as with many species, the more you see this species(even females), it will become easier to differentiate them. I always recommend using a field guide with true pics as well as one with drawings, as both have pros and cons, but used together can often give a clearer understanding of field marks, plumages, etc.

I like to use a field guide to narrow down my choices, and the photos on AAB and Macaulay to support any final decision.

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20 hours ago, egosnell2002 said:

Everything fits Redhead perfect, I never really considered these similar species, but I guess that's just because you never see them together, Ring-necks are always on ponds and Redheads are always on lakes. Head shape is a key difference, and the tones of Redhead is warmer I think. A caution to only relying on Sibley: It's only one source, and it's impossible to illustrate a species perfectly, especially when not every bird looks the same. Using all about birds and google images can help a lot too, just be careful that the photo is labelled correctly!

Overall body shape, especially the head, and also head color definitely say Redhead. However, the side body line which is fairly distinct and has a hint of spur could be misleading as it sure looks Ring-necked. I also find the white eye-ring is often more distinct on the Ring-necked, so it easy for beginners like me to struggle a little.

I don't think location is definitive as I see them on the lake regularly as in the attached image with Redheads ( the one Ring-necked is on the left) together, poor quality image. I also typically see Redheads, Scaups and Ring-necked together in the Fall on Lake Huron.

As someone said experience is everything, it's going to take me a while.

Redheads and Ring-necked HVT-7206808.jpg

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20 hours ago, egosnell2002 said:

Ring-necks are always on ponds and Redheads are always on lakes.

I'm not sure how we're defining ponds vs. lakes.  My only confirmed Redheads were on a body of water that is about 4 or 5 acres and less than 10 feet deep.

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15 minutes ago, Charlie Spencer said:

I'm not sure how we're defining ponds vs. lakes.  My only confirmed Redheads were on a body of water that is about 4 or 5 acres and less than 10 feet deep.

I don't think the birds have a rule book an this, if they can rest and find some food then pond/lake size is probably low on the list of priorities.

With this bird it is the distinct side body line mark and faint spur which is interesting, not sure how typical this is.

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Yes, by no means is the pond/lake a defining feature, I was just saying that I rarely see them together. As per Sibley: "(Ring-necked) winters on ponds and rivers, often near or among trees, on smaller and more enclosed ponds than other Aythya" and "(Redhead) winters on open water of lakes and bays". I suppose this is more applicable to people in their wintering range (like me), the only time I've ever seen a Redhead on a body of water smaller than 1km across was birds on a nest, which is very unusual for this area. They can also definitely be in smaller bodies of water along coasts as well, and I'm sure they can be wherever they want when they're migrating as well. All I was saying that for me, this is really the first time I've had to think about their similarities and differences because I usually never see them together. @RobinHood that's a very good comparison picture between the two, it really brings out the differences between the two.

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Mine were definitely migrating.  I've been watching this "pond" three or four days a week for 14 years.  I've seen Mallards, HOMEs, CAGOs,  DCCOs on it annually, and occasionally Ruddys and SNGOs, but no Aythya's on it before these.  They were there one day and gone the next.  I'd stopped there the day before for GBBC and don't know why I went back.  "Better to be lucky than good."

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