I'm going to try to take a stab at delving further into the id of this Aythya duck. I have never seen Common Pochard before, so I'll use this as a learning experience too!
Looking at the Stokes and Nat Geo Field Guides, it would seem that the best way to describe a male Common Pochard would be a cross between a Redhead and Canvasback. The big field mark in my opinion that shows the bird Ron Payne and Ian Worley saw is a Common Pochard is the head. Male pochards have a peaked head that slopes forward, rather than the head of a Canvasback which slopes towards the back. Redheads have rounded heads. Stokes goes further in saying that, to separate from the rare Canvasback x Redhead hybrids, one must look at the bill- a male Pochard has a three toned bill, with a dark gray base, pale gray middle, and black tip. Taking a look at Ron's picture, the three toned bill is evident. In addition, a male Pochard has dark red eyes while a Redhead has yellowish eyes- the picture might be too blurry to see this trait.
So in conclusion, based on the characteristics listed above, I agree the bird Ron and Ian found is a Common Pochard. Awesome find, and thank you Jeremiah and Allan for getting the word out! I hope the Pochard, as well as the Tufted Duck, stick around for a little while- it would appear that this Pochard might be the first record for the eastern U.S.! (I do see a record for Quebec several years ago).
Cheers and Happy New Year,
Raleigh, NC (soon back at Dartmouth, NH)
From: Miriam Lawrence <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Tuesday, January 1, 2013 3:09 PM
Subject: Re: [VTBIRD] Fwd: Common Pochard at Champlain Bridge
As a learning exercise for us more novice birders, couldvJeremiah (or you) explain the characteristics and field marks that enable this ID, especially from such a fuzzy image?
Sent from my iPad
On Jan 1, 2013, at 2:43 PM, Allan Strong <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> I just got this email from Jeremiah Trimble who ID'ed Ian and Ron's red-headed duck as a Common Pochard.
> -------- Original Message --------
> Subject: Common Pochard at Champlain Bridge
> Date: Tue, 1 Jan 2013 14:28:55 -0500
> From: Jeremiah Trimble <[log in to unmask]>
> To: Kent McFarland <[log in to unmask]>
> CC: Allan Strong <[log in to unmask]>, Chris Rimmer <[log in to unmask]>
> Hi all,
> Happy New Year!
> I need to follow up on the storm-petrel specimen but in an immediate matter, a redhead was reported today on Vermont birds along with a Redhead. The "Redhead" in the image is a Common Pochard! I'm not sure how to get the word out better than email you guys!!
> Good luck,
> On Thursday, October 13, 2011, Kent McFarland wrote:
> Hi Jeremiah,
> I have the storm-petrel specimen now in our freezer. Allan said I
> should just send it down to you. Can you give me address and days of
> week you are definetly there so I can send overnight frozen? In the
> hand it does look good (not that I'd know really, but according to
> this page with some of your photos:
> http://www.neseabirds.com/Birdsstormpetrelsseperating.htm). It has
> black feet and webbing. The only thing that is on the small end is
> total length. I think it will barely hit 7.5" when in thawed state.
> Apparently on the short end. But the legs don't come even close to
> extending past the tail. Anyhow, it does seem to fit band-rumped....
> Kent McFarland
> Conservation Biologist
> Vermont Center for Ecostudies
> PO Box 420
> Norwich, Vermont 05055
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> Jeremiah Trimble
> Curatorial Associate - Ornithology
> Museum of Comparative Zoology
> Harvard University
> 26 Oxford Street
> Cambridge, MA 02138
> phone: 617-495-2471
> fax: 617-495-5667
> email: [log in to unmask] <mailto:[log in to unmask]>