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April 2014


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Jason Caddy <[log in to unmask]>
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Jason Caddy <[log in to unmask]>
Sat, 26 Apr 2014 20:47:35 -0600
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I was able to observe this wonderful species at Crex Meadows today around 1:30pm at the previously reported location with my family along with some other birders who made the journey (mostly people from Minnesota).
Not all rarities are created equal! I have been waiting to see a good Eurasian vagrant in the Midwest for a long time. This bird is a bona fide ABA code 4 rarity. It used to be code 3 but it has been less frequently seen recently, possibly because of declines in eastern Asia. The Garganey is a rare bird in the western Aleutian Islands but very rare in the rest of the United States. Pending acceptance this will be the first record for Wisconsin and Minnesota only has two accepted records. It is far more rare in North America than the Eurasian Wigeon or even the Tufted Duck!
The Garganey is the only duck in Europe that completely leaves the continent during the winter. North America also does not have any duck species that entirely leave the continent in the winter (that I am aware of). The Garganey has a relatively late northward migration and a very early (for a duck) southward migration. 
I would be surprised if this were not a bird of wild origin for a few reasons: late April is the most likely time of the year to find a Garganey; it was found associating with Blue-winged Teal in perfectly appropriate habitat; and, especially, since there have been a fair number of western rarities found recently in the area. In Minnesota we have had Eurasian Wigeon and Cinnamon Teal recently and within Crex Meadows there was a Chestnut-collared Longspur and a Mountain Bluebird found recently. There must be a weather pattern that is pushing these birds east of their normal ranges.
If you have a chance to go see the bird I would highly recommend it but please be conscientious when trying to get a better look or a photograph because this a small pond and if the bird were to feel harassed he may leave for countless other ponds in the area, possibly never to be found again. If you are lucky enough to see him, a male Garganey is quite a sight to behold! Not only does he have an interesting head pattern, but his entire body is full of intricacies and sharp contrasts.
One strange fact I found on Wikipedia is that the name Garganey originally derives from the Latin, gargala, which means tracheal artery.
Thank you Jesse Ellis for posting this for Minnesotans and to the original finder of the bird.
Jason Caddy
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