Does anyone know what this is?

unidentified duck

I’ve seen this little diving duck a number of mornings at Niles Beach.  At first I thought it was a juvenile eider, but it is too small and dives differently than eiders.  It has a long spear of a tail feather, which you can see in the first and last photos.  It may be a juvenile of its kind, but I have no idea what it is.  It spends very little time above water and a long time under so it was challenging to shoot.  Does anyone know what it is?

E.J. Lefavour

14 thoughts on “Does anyone know what this is?

  1. Love this E.J.!! I think it is a Long-tailed Duck. Males have the pinkish red band at the tip of their bill. And your description on how it stays underwater a super long time was revealing, too–also a trait of Long-tailed Ducks.


      1. I think they breed in the Arctic during the summer months and had read previously that there is a large flock that winters over in Nantucket Sound. Curious as to why it is here in the summer. I think Ill head over to Niles and see if its around!


    1. I looked for him again yesterday and this morning when the water was calmer and I thought I might get a better shot of him, but I didn’t see him again. He was fairly close to shore on the rocky part of Niles Beach parallel to Eastern Point when I saw him before, but I also saw him straight off the beach one time.


    1. Kim Smith identified it as a Long-tailed duck (formerly known as an Oldsquaw duck), which my further research also confirmed. It does have the look of a loon, except for the long tail feather and white eye patch. It also was smaller than a loon, but you couldn’t tell that from the photos.


  2. I believe it is actually an Oldsquaw. The only duck to have both plain black wings and a white body. It also has a long tail !


  3. i guess i am showing my age, did a bit of research and the Oldsquaw was renamed the long tail… I think I like the old name better.. 🙂


    1. I like the old name better myself, but maybe it was considered politically incorrect to call them that. Some old Native American squaws maybe took offense.


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