Date: 7/2/17 10:58 am From: Don Roberson <creagrus...> Subject: [MBBIRDS] First evidence of MTY breeding in Redhead for 102 years
Yesterday Rita and I saw a group of 4 'female-plumaged' Redhead on Bennett Slough, viewing from Struve Road. Recognizing that this could be a female with 3 fledglings in juv plumage, I did trespass a short distance to get photos. I was never able to get all 4 in the same shot, but despite getting close to them, none of them flew. A couple of them exercised their wings by flapping. They were mixed in broods of varying ages of Gadwall, which clearly were too young to fly. I think that the 3 juv-plumaged Redhead were probably at an age just before flight. Birds of North America says:
> At 7 wk, remaining down covered by scapulars; white tips of secondaries visible when wing is held loosely or flapped, but otherwise hidden by scapulars and tertiaries. Sheaths of primaries and greater primary coverts still conspicuous. Usually completely feathered by 8 wk. Flight usually attained by 8.5–9 wk. At 8–10 wk in male, bill tip darkens, and an indistinct, light, subterminal band appears.
The bills of the juvs did not yet show a subterminal band (photos to be posted on my web site in due course).
In short, we think we saw either (a) a female in summer plumage (e.g., dark bill) with a brood of 3 full-grown but flightless juvs, or, less likely (b) a set of 4 juvs. Three were decidedly darker-headed than the 4th, so we think that was the female. We will get expert opinion on that.
Assuming this analysis is correct, these must have hatched somewhere in the Bennett/McCluskley Slough complex in Monterey County. There have been more than usual sightings of adult Redheads in this slough complex this spring, and some pairs. We thought they might nest some year.
The only prior evidence of the nesting of Redhead in MTY comes from a set of 9 eggs taken from a nest on the Empire Gun Club near Castroville on 16 June 1915 [eggs are at MVZ, U.C. Berkeley].
Thus, this appears to be the first evidence of breeding Redhead in MTY in 102 years.