Escaped waterfowl might be an even more difficult ID challenge for birders than cage birds. Strong fliers and long-distance migrants, it can be easy to imagine one being blown off course over an ocean onto a far shore. Indeed, many types of waterfowl have strong patterns of vagrancy to both U.S. coasts: including geese (barnacle, pink-footed, emperor) and ducks (Eurasian wigeon, tufted).
At the same time, raising exotic wildfowl is a common practice. I got in touch with Rosemary Miner from the Gooseneck Hill Waterfowl Sanctuary in upstate NY - home of the the two largest covered aviaries in the world - and asked her about some of the issues she deals with raising waterfowl.
I found Rosemary through her website, which I noticed lists 'Smew' among the ducks she keeps at her sanctuary. This caught my eye because in December a young smew spent several days in Whitby Harbor, Ontario, not too far (as the smew flies) from the Gooseneck Hill Sanctuary in Deleven, NY. I asked Rosemary several questions about this bird, not because I wanted to be a spoiler for anyone's bird, but because I'm not sure how much direct inquiry of breeders goes on when a record committee makes a decision on the provenance of a bird. It turns out that the smew is not likely hers, and those lists are safe. Here's the interview, thanks so much to Rosemary for agreeing to answer my questions!
|Smew at Gooseneck Hill Waterfowl Sanctuary, photo Rosemary Miner|