The Muddy Ruddy

by Bryce W. Robinson


The Ruddy Duck is a unique character in appearance. They are not all too uncommon in areas I frequent lately, but I always enjoy finding them and watching their behaviors. The Ruddy duck dives for its food. It digs through the mud on the bottom of the freshwaters, returning to the surface after a successful mudding, to look about, swim some distance, and dive again. The fun of  the divers is to see a submersion and watch for the bird to reappear.

I was watching a Ruddy, about its business, in a freshwater estuary of the highly saline Great Salt Lake. As it dove and resurfaced, I began noticing that each time the bird came up, its broad bill was soiled with silt from where it had been feeding. The mud added to an aesthetic I enjoy immensely among diving waterfowl. So often, they resurface with beads of water across their back, and semi-saturated feathers on their face and crown. Their breast often appears glossy. Watching closely always rewards me with a detailed view of textures and details overlooked from quick glances or distant views.

Birding is rewarding on so many levels. I can’t help but respect it all.