Chris Neff found a Tufted Duck at Kitchell Pond at Loantaka Brook Reservation on November 22, 2021 and thinks the duck may have been there the day before. Many others have observed the duck since.
Eleven previous records of Tufted Duck are recorded in New Jersey (http://njbrc.com/documents/ARL.pdf). This is the first for Morris County and the first this far inland as far as is known. The other records are from coastal locations as well as Bergen and Salem counties. It will be up to the New Jersey Bird Records Committee to accept this as a valid New Jersey record.
This duck took a few hours to determine the identification. An adult male Tufted Duck is relatively easy to identify, but the one at Loantaka…not so. The Aythya genus can be problematic at times, especially with the possibility of a hybrid.
It is determined with the help of Tom Johnson and others that the Loantaka individual is a pure Tufted Duck (TUDU in abbreviated bird-banding-speak) showing no signs of hybridization.
The tuft is tough to see in certain conditions, especially when the duck’s head is wet. Note the wide nail of the bill. Interestingly there are a smattering of Tufted Duck reports currently from Vermont as well as New Brunswick, Labrador, and Newfoundland in Canada.
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