Hey guys, welcome back! Today we have a large diving duck known as the canvasback. Canvasback males have a similar color palette as the redhead; reddish-brown head, black breast, light gray almost white body, but the canvasback is larger and has a black bill. Females are a pale brown-gray. The thing that sets the canvasback apart in terms of ID is its silhouette. Both male and female canvasbacks have a long bill and gently sloping forehead.

Female canvasback, St. Louis Zoo, St. Louis, MO

Canvasbacks are fairly common in the US during winter and spring, and spend their summers primarily in Canada as well as pockets of the Rocky Mountains. They can be seen wintering in very large groups. Get used to their silhouette, canvasbacks tend to flush very easily, so it’s rather difficult to get close to one. All the canvasbacks I’ve seen in the wild were at quite a distance. The closeups pictured in this post were taken at the St. Louis Zoo where there’s a few canvasbacks living in the 1904 World’s Fair flight cage.

Canvasback in the wild, Flushing Bay, East Elmhurst, NY

In New York, I could see them very reliably in Flushing Bay every winter. I’d ride my bike out toward Citi Field and take the promenade by the water, just past LaGuardia Airport. There’d always be a ton of scaup, ruddy ducks, bufflehead, and canvasback. I have yet to find one in Ohio. They do winter on Lake Erie, but I missed them each time I went looking this past winter. There’s always next year! Speaking of scaup, we have one of the two scaup species next up. See you then!

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