(Standard) American Wood Duck.Snapped @ Lake Jordan, Apex, NC. The chocolate and silver leucistic variants, snapped @ Sylvan Heights Bird Park, Scotland Neck, NC.

American Wood Ducks: Standard vs Leucistic

Photography
♦️ Pub: Apr 17, 2019 | Modified: Apr 17, 2019 | Reading: 2 min. ♦️

(Standard) American Wood Duck.Snapped @ Lake Jordan, Apex, NC.
The chocolate and silver leucistic variants, snapped @ Sylvan Heights Bird Park, Scotland Neck, NC.

Birding as a Bittersweet Passion

American Wood Duck, Leucistic. Silver variant. (Snapped @ Sylvan Heights Bird Park, Scotland Neck, NC)
American Wood Duck, Leucistic. Silver variant. (Snapped @ Sylvan Heights Bird Park, Scotland Neck, NC)

Talk ’bout a bittersweet passion! SMH. Birding incurs a host of pain points. Examples:

🔸 trying to anticipate the bird’s next movement, so the lens captures the bird as opposed to the memory of where the lil RoadRunner once perched

🔸 maintaining a steady hold on the camera, despite the “Yo, I’m a pretzel” body angle

🔸 explaining to any non-birder why it makes perfectly good sense to put a raincoat on a camera, while you stand unprotected in a downpour

🔸 slooooowly coming to the realization that all the serial “I’m Job” mantras in the world ain’t gonna give ya the patience required to get a shot of that bird, over yonder, barely visible in a thicket

🔸 correctly identifying the bird in your lens

Identifying Birds

American Wood Duck, standard (Snapped @ Sylvan Heights Bird Park, Scotland Neck, NC)
American Wood Duck, standard (Snapped @ Sylvan Heights Bird Park, Scotland Neck, NC)

Identifying da boidies can vex with a vengeance. The slope of the head may differentiate one bird family from another, ‘specially in ducks land. Perhaps the bill / beak, eyes, tail, underbelly, or leg coloring instead nails the precise species. The list goes on.

Truth be told, that’s why I purchased my first camera in 2005. I’d memorize one part of a bird, search, only to discover I’d focused on the wrong part. Multiply that by dozens of disappointments, and you better comprehend how I wound up at a Ritz camera store.

Nature, however, decided such fine-line signifiers weren’t sufficiently adept at baffling birders. And so, devilish lil soul she can be, Lady Nature gifts us with outright oddities. Easy-to-recognize species beloved by non-birders too, but with a twist. The jaw drops as the intense head-scratching begins. Folks, welcome to the leucistic effect.

Identification and Leucistic Birds: Fuhgeddaboutit!

American Wood Duck, Leucistic. Chocolate variant. (Snapped @ Sylvan Heights Bird Park, Scotland Neck, NC)
American Wood Duck, Leucistic. Chocolate variant. (Snapped @ Sylvan Heights Bird Park, Scotland Neck, NC)

The cover image contrasts two leucistic American Wood Ducks (what I dub the Luke Guys) with their more familiar standard counterpart. I snapped each collage photo on different days, the sun consistently playing peakaboo behind clouds.

I prefer cloudy days because pronounced luscious coloring escapes the predictable butchering attending burn-it-out sunshine.

The wood duck looking like a wood duck coerced me into a hide-&-go-seek game at a local park, Lake Jordan. The chocolate and silver dudes (dudettes??) greeted me at the Sylvan Heights Bird Park.

So if birding can be so maddening, why is my 15-year anniversary in the hobby soon to dawn?

Why My OnGoing Bird Photography Obsession?

American Wood Duck, a common beauty. (Snapped @ Duke Gardens, Durham, NC)
American Wood Duck, a common beauty. (Snapped @ Duke Gardens, Durham, NC)

Cliff Notes version: Within the context of bird photography, success—like failure—materializes the same day, if not within the hour. I get the shot or I don’t. The pic’s a keeper or it’s not.

Compare that to a lifetime as litigator, where finality takes years. Dang near always. The one near exception? Criminal prosecution work, courtesy of plea bargaining. Yeah, now ya get it, eh?!

As remains the case with law, I relish the inherent challenges inherent in birding (most days). I adore the ongoing learning curves. Unlike law, birding coerces me into the pew of the only church I trust — i.e. a park bench. The trees deliver their sermon, withOUT obscenely hypocritical judgmental stances. Squirrels and critters warble as the hallelujah choir.

Nature’s valium effect keeps me faithful, even with The Luke Guys haunting me. 😀

More Leucistic Birds (Albino vs Leucism, Explained)

American Robin, Ruby-Throated Hummingbird, and more…


Call to Action

Creatives, do yourself a humongous favor. Develop a hobby hypnotic in its effect. Taking a prolonged moment to lose yourself in a beloved hobby flushes stress and it’s residual effects. It’s like flipping the enhanced! creativity switch. Hey, always a good thing!

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