MIGRATING WATERFOWL OF LAKE SCUGOG
NEWS AT OCTOBER, 2020
“Lake Scugog is a very important staging area for waterfowl in both the spring and fall as they return from their wintering or breeding grounds up north. Migration consumes a lot of energy, so a safe haven with adequate food resources is essential. Many species will linger in the open bays and more vegetated wetlands, finding food and avoiding predators. Birds can be present for days or weeks depending on the species and the season.
Look for the puddle ducks (e.g. Mallards, Black Duck, Pintail, Gadwall, Green and Blue-winged Teal, Wigeon and Wood Ducks) in the shallower marshes, while diving ducks (e.g. Scaup, Redhead, Ring-necked Duck, Bufflehead, Mergansers and Golden-eye) prefer the open water.
The reason has a lot to do with how they feed. The puddle ducks, or dabblers, as they are called, feed by tipping up and grabbing small invertebrates or vegetation just below the surface. Diving ducks dive under water to find prey in deeper habitats. In the spring, the ducks start to return as soon as the ice leaves and will stay well into May to feed and rest before heading north to central and northern Ontario to breed. Most ducks start returning in October on their southbound journey and will often stay until the lake freezes over. A few species such as Blue-winged Teal, Hooded Mergansers and Wood Ducks breed locally and can offer delightful encounters all summer long!” from Geoff Carpentier, Avocet Nature Services.
For more information on how to identify what you might be seeing check out: https://www.ducks.ca/species/
We will be doing a bigger story on Wood ducks and Hooded Mergansers later on in the season.
In the meantime: Watch for Great egrets seen many times to the north in marshes on the north end of Lake Scugog. They are not just albino Blue Herons. See: https://www.simcoe.com/opinion-story/8635771-ontario-sees-wave-of-large-wading-birds/ for why we may be seeing more of these beautiful birds.