This little male isn’t exactly delicate when he lands. It more like “ker-plop”.
Long-tails used to be called the Oldsquaw duck, a name you will still find in some older reference material. They’re a stocky little diving duck, about the same size as a Bufflehead, if you don’t count the male’s extremely long tail feathers, which can another ten inches or so. Capable of diving up to 200 feet, long-tails are among the deepest diving ducks in North America.
They breed in the Arctic regions, and we only get to see them in the winter months in the Niagara area. And do we ever see them. The north shore of Lake Erie and the Niagara River are loaded with longtails, numbering into the thousands. The canal under the Burlington Skyway near Hamilton, Ontario is absolutely packed with them at this time of year as well.
They are plentiful but very camera shy. One of their characteristics that I really like is the way they stare at you out of the corner of their eye as they paddle away as fast as they can.
Long-tailed ducks are found in a large variety of different plumages, depending on age, sex and the time of the year. The winter mature male is a gorgeous creature, with his long tail, and distinctive colouring.