BAIKAL TEAL near Missoula, Montana

Today while birding along the Maclay Irrigation Canal, just south of the Maclay Recreation Area near Missoula, Montana. Within the canal and keeping company with a pair of Wood Ducks was a pale-headed teal. Upon glassing the presumed teal, it seemed to be a Baikal Teal. I managed to fired off a volley of photos (see below). The Baikal Teal soon flushed with the Wood Ducks. It circled around and settled in an old, small gravel pit some 300 meters away. I pursued the bird to that location. The teal had settled in with several Mallards. More detail will be added to this posting as I complete the various write-ups of the sighting. Please use the comments on this post for information.


Baikal Teal with male Wood Duck
Baikal Teal quartering away

 

Baikal Teal standing erect

 

Baikal Teal in flightUPDATE: The Baikal Teal sighting was accepted by the Montana Bird Records Committee

 

Written by Radd Icenoggle

I am a native Montanan, who has spent a lifetime as an outdoors and wildlife enthusiast. I earned a degree in biology with an emphasis on habitat relations. During my studies, I had the great fortune to research and compose a thesis that explored the effects of slope aspect on...
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15 Comments

Frank Hall

Outstanding find and good photos. Now, all you have to do is convince the birding world it is not an escaped aviary bird. Plumage looks nice and crisp to me.

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Ed Stonick

Beautiful bird and nice shots! One showed up in southern California about ten years ago.

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Jim Greaves

Nice Radd – I saw the one in Lompoc CA that Wes Fritz found on a CBC about a decade ago, which was determined to be wild. So, it is likely yours will “pass muster”, unless you can bait it to shore with bread… 😉 – Jim

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Jeff Fleischer

This is a nice series of documentation photos. I was drawn to the picture with the top of the birds legs exposed somewhat and from what I can tell in the photo as I view it on my computer, there doesn’t seem to be any leg bands showing. Not sure if private collectors band their birds with leg bands but with this bird not having any, that could be a part of the argument as to whether this is a wild bird or not.

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Radd Icenoggle

Everything points to this being a wild bird. No bands, no evidence of clipping of any kind, and the weather systems as of late are perfect for blowing in a rarity.

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Chance Curran

I’m sorry but i have to argue about the rather greater possibility of this bird being an escapee. The baikal teal is not protected by the Migratory Bird treaty act and therefore does not require seamless leg banding, toe clipping, or pinioning. I know of a few breeders up north that all raise baikals. Just saying….

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Radd Icenoggle

I believe that there is absolutely no indication that this bird is an escapee. No bands, complete hallux, normal behavior, plumage is unadulterated. The preceding weather patterns were perfect for producing a vagrant.

Also to say that since a species is kept occasionally in captivity, the burden of identification should not shift to defending wild status, but rather look for observational details that indicate captive origin. I have really scrutinized this bird, and I cannot find any indication of captive origin.

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Jed Petersen

Has this bird been seen lately? I happen to traveling down to Idaho, but if this bird is still around, I was going to make a detour to see if I could find this bird. Any directions to the last known location would be helpful too. Thanks.

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Radd Icenoggle

The bird was last seen before 6 this morning, and to my knowledge it has not been observed since. I am going to try tomorrow as well.

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Jed Petersen

I posted a comment earlier, but it didn’t show up. So…I will try again. I was wondering if this bird has been seen lately and where I could find it. I will be traveling through and I wanted to chase it if I could. If Radd could respond directly, I would appreciate it. I just had some questions. My email is petejedi@isu.edu Thanks.

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Michael Spurlock

Check out Lee Metcalf near Stevensville and you just might see another one. I’m amazed at the variety there this time of year. This year, there and at Ninepipe, I’ve been seeing varieties I’ve never seen in Montana before.

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Byron K. Butler

The bird was still being seen as of mid-afternoon May 5 (Sunday) by at least 5 observers; others earlier in the day. For Chance who said “I know of a few breeders up north that all raise baikals.” You have to do better than “just saying,” provide evidence that there are breeders “up north” who raise this bird. Who? Where? This is a sore spot with me since for over 30 years I have heard nay-sayers, from New England to the Midwest to, now, the Pacific Northwest, make such claims but never provide more than “just saying.” If I were to believe all these claims I would be convinced there are breeders, legal and illegal, and online sellers and buyers all over the country, but in all that time I have never seen the name of a single breeder, keeper, seller, or webpage. I have seen the Missoula Baikal Teal and can not come up with a single argument to suggest it is not a naturally occuring wild bird — and I looked. Nice find Rad, my sincere congrats!!!

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Katharine Yang

Thank you very much, Rad, for finding and photographing this beautiful bird! Just saw your photo in Paul Baicich’s Birding Community E-Bulletin.

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