Duck of the Month

As editor of our curling club's newsletter, Duck Soup, I introduced a feature called Duck of the Month. We are, afterall, the Ardsley Ducks.

These have been the featured ducks of the month:

October, 2014: Northern Pintail (Anas acuta)

This dabbling duck has a long thin neck with a white patch at the base of the head, much like the duck depicted in the Ardsley Curling Club emblem.

December, 2014: Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola)

Buffleheads are small sea ducks that rock side-to-side as they fly. They are common in coastal waters during winter and one can be found in Ardsley Trophy case.

February, 2015: Falkland Steamerduck (Tachyeres brachypterus)

A large, flightless waterbird that propels itself across the surface of the water reminiscent of an old paddle steamer. Four steamer ducks weigh about the same as one curling stone.

April, 2015: Redhead (Aythya americana)

A medium sized diving duck that can be easily identified by its rounded red head (almost as round as a curling stone.) Although somewhat rare, a group of redheads were regular visitors to our area this winter.

October, 2015: Wood Duck (Aix Sponsa)

You'll want to draw the button while noticing the distinctive eye ring on the less colorful female wood duck. Their call is a drawn-out, rising squeal, "do sweep, do sweep" sounding like some of our curling skips.

December, 2015: Northern Shoveler (Anas Clypeata)

This distinctive dabbling duck has an elongated, spoon-shaped bill with comblike projections along its edges. They take a hard line against curlers who might use them for sweeping.

January, 2016: Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis)

These small, compact ducks often hold their tails cocked upward and beat their bills against the water hard enough to create a swirl of bubbles. This should bring out maximum performance when skipping a curling game.

February, 2016: American Black Duck (Anas rubripes )

This shy but common duck is often found in mixed flocks with other puddle ducks in our area. If you see one at the club posed with wings up as pictured - it means STOP SWEEPING!

April, 2016: West Indian Whistling Duck (Dendrocygna arborea)

One of the rarest ducks in the Americas, the West Indian Whistling- Duck is almost as rare as an 8-ender!

December, 2016: Cape Teal (Anas capensis)

Found in open wetlands of sub-Saharan Africa, this dabbling duck is a generally quiet species. But, its calls of SWEEP during the curling season, can be heard all the way to Cape Cod.

March, 2017: Spectacled Eider (Somateria fischeri)

These ducks have markings that resemble huge pale goggles around their eyes. They spend most of the winter far out in the Bering Sea coming ashore to breed on Arctic tundra in Western Alaska. They hang out around pack ice at other times, looking to nd a pick-up curling game.

October, 2017: Hottentot Teal (Spatula hottentota)

This dabbling duck from South Africa can be found in small groups and prefers smaller bodies of water. This one is fanning the flames for Seth Altman's warrior dash.

November, 2017: Flanders Big Duck (aka Peking Duck)

This large solidly built duck derives from 15 birds hatched in China in 1872, 5 years after the GNCC was established. Nine survived the voyage to the US, 5 were subsequently eaten, and the remaining 4 birds became the foundation stock of the American Peking. The Big Duck on Long Island was constructed in the 1930s as a retail poultry store when there were about 90 duck farms in Suffolk County. Today there are more curlers than duck farmers on Long Island.

December, 2017: Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)

The large bill on this dabbling duck helps the skip yell for sweeping as his teammate glides out smoothly on one webbed foot.

January, 2018: Ruddy shelduck (Tadorna ferruginea)

This migratory bird normally winters on the Indian subcontinent, but this year it's heading to South Korea to show off its golden plumage during the Olympics.

March, 2018: Green-winged Teal (Anas crecca)

The smallest dabbling duck in north america relies on its fine sense of weight to always draw the button.

April, 2018: Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)

This dabbling duck is abundant over most of the northern hemisphere. When it forgets to put on its curling gripper, it slips on the ice just like Vinay at the pull-the-plug.

August, 2018: Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris)

This diving duck prefers shallow ponds and wetlands. The ring around its neck is challenging to see, like the scribed rings on a temporary curling sheet.

October, 2018: Pacific Black Duck (Anas superciliosa)

This sociable dabbling duck is mostly brown, but some claim that it looks black when seen at a distance. If you want to see a truly "black duck" visit Tony Smith's sculpture at PepsiCo World Headquarters in Purchase, NY.

December, 2018: Canvasback (Aythya valisineria)

This big diving duck is the largest of its genus. Its name also racks up more points than any other duck when played in Scrabble with a score of 23.

January, 2019: Mandarin Duck (Aix galericulata)

This perching duck, a native to East Asia, has been hanging out in Central Park this winter hoping for a revival of curling when The Pond freezes.

February, 2019: Gadwall (Mareca Strepera)

These dabbling ducks will steal food from flocks of diving ducks. Watch out when you have hammer, as they'ss be trying to steal every end.

March, 2019: American wigeon (Mareca american)

These dabbling ducks sport a green eye patch and a white head stripe. These ducks are highly gregarious and always bring some pizzazz to the curling sheet.

April, 2019: Harlequin duck (Histrionicus histrionicus)

This small sea duck takes its name from the character in Comedia dell'arte. Characterized by his checkered costume, the harlequin is all set with his own curling costume.

October, 2019: White-cheeked Pintail (Anas bahamensis)

These dabbling ducks typically form a monogamous mating pair. We spotted a pair in the Galapagos getting ready to play mixed doubles.

December, 2019: Black-bellied Whistling-Duck (Dendrocygna autumnalis)

These boisterous ducks like to perch in trees and really do have a whistle for their call. The whistle is handy for the coach of this curling team, shown scoping out the competition.

January, 2020: Yellow-billed Duck (Anas undulata)

These gregarious dabbling ducks are common in southern and eastern Africa. When curling they always choose to play with the yellow rocks, even if it means giving up the hammer.

March, 2020: Common goldeneye (Bucephala clangula)

The genus name is derived from the Ancient Greek boukephalos, a reference to the bulbous head shape - which look like ancient Greek curling stones.

April, 2020: Masked Duck (Nomonyx dominicus)

These secretive ducks range widely in the American tropics. Their built-in mask and solitary lifestyle make them experts at practicing social distancing.

November, 2020: Surf Scoter (Melanitta perspicillata)

These sea ducks breed far to the North in Canada and Alaska, but are common winter visitors in our neck of the woods. The distinctive spot on the bill looks like the valve on an N95 mask, but he wouldn't wear that at the club!

January, 2021: King Eider (Somateria spectabilis)

These sea ducks nest in the high Arctic during the summer, but prefer to winter at the southern edge of the sea ice and can sometimes be spotted near us. They are ready to skip at a moment's notice with a super warm eider down jacket.

March, 2021: Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator)

These diving ducks sit low in the water and fly at an angle with the head higher than their feet. This pair is ready to take on Andrew Stopera and his partner, Madison Bear, at the US Mixed Doubles National Championship this summer.

April, 2021: Blue-winged Teal (Spatula discors)

These dabbling ducks breed as far north as Canada's Yukon and Northwest Territories. They're hoping to secure a berth in next year's Brier.

July, 2021: Eastern Spot-billed Duck (Anas zonorhyncha)

These ducks are common in lakes, ponds and estuaries in Japan. While happy about the Tokyo summer Olympics, they are more excited about the winter Olympics in Beijing where they can strut their curling expertise.

September, 2021: Common Merganser (Mergus merganser)

These common winter visitors can be found up and down the Hudson River. This male and female pair arrived early to practice mixed doubles.

October, 2021: Long-tailed Duck (Clangula hyemalis)

The only living member of its genus, this sea duck is one of the most vocal of ducks, making them ideal curling skips. Rather than wearing fish shirts, they can be found diving for small fish and other sea creatures.

December, 2021: Eurasian Wigeon (Mareca penelope)

This dabbling duck is a rare visitor to North America. The species name is from Greek mythology - Odysseus's wife, Penelope, was rescued by a duck after she was thrown into the ocean.

February, 2022: Greater or Lesser Scaup (Aythya marilla or Aythya affinis)

These diving ducks got their name from feeding on scalp - the Scottish word for clams, oysters, and mussels. When not eating, they enjoy the Scottish game of curling.

March, 2022: Black Scoter (Melanitta americana)

These sea ducks form large winter flocks along both Atlantic and Pacific coastlines. They may migrate southward in search of happening bonspiels like the Big Apple.

May, 2022: Mottled Duck (Anas fulvigula)

These dabbling ducks are typically found along the Gulf of Mexico Coast. This NY visitor, came up to visit the pull-the-plug where it won the pose-like-a-curling stone contest.

October, 2022: Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus)

Mergansers are our only ducks that specialize in eating fish. They have a crest that can spread open like a fan.

December, 2022: Maccoa Duck (Oxyura maccoa)

These diving ducks are found across South Africa and are considered a sedentary species - meaning they don't migrate. But they enjoy trying new locales for curling bonspiels!

February, 2023: Knob-billed Duck (Sarkidiornis melanotos)

These African comb ducks are found in Sub-Saharan Africa. The males have a large black lump on the head. Perhaps hit on the noggin one time too many by a curling stone. (photo credit: Debbie van Zyl)

March, 2023: Red-billed Duck (Anas erythrorhyncha)

These highly gregariuous dabbling ducks form large flocks in southern and eastern Africa. They've been known to choose red rocks instead of the hammer after winning the coin flip.

April, 2023: Cinnamon Teal (Spatula cyanoptera)

These dabbling ducks live in marshes and ponds and felt right at home as temperatures rose in April. This pair is looking forward to playing doubles next fall.

October, 2023: White-winged Scoter (Melanitta deglandi)

These large, stocky sea ducks have a sloping forehead and a bulge at the base of the bill. Perhaps hit in the head by an errant curling stone while foraging among underwater rocks.

Lynn Salmon <>{