There's been an interesting trend forming in Ontaio over the week - ducks rarely found away from large bodies of water, like Greater Scaup and Long-tailed Duck, showing up on rivers wherever there is open water. For example, I came across the following ducks on a walk along the Speed River in Guelph yesterday:
None of these ducks are normally found within the city of Guelph, and neither do they normally show up on small rivers. There are likely a couple factors at work here.
With the very cold winter, the Great Lakes have frozen extensively, as have any smaller lakes, ponds, and slower rivers. This has much reduced the amount of open water habitat for ducks, and many of the ducks normally spending the winter have been forced to move on.
In addition, ducks often move very early in the spring after south winds or warm temperatures, which has happened a couple of times recently. Some of these birds, particularly species like Redhead and Canvasback, may be very early migrants that haven't been able to find any more suitable open water.
Regardless of the reasons, these ducks provide some welcome excitement in this rather poor winter for birding.