With large crowds of observers stopping by at the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area to view the thousands of migrating Snow Geese and Tundra Swans there, you may not notice the smaller but just as enthusiastic crowd gathering at the refuge to see a single, rather inconspicuous waterfowl, a male Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula). This extraordinarily rare visitor has been on the refuge for at least two weeks now. The Tufted Duck, a diving benthic feeder, is native to Europe and Asia, but this vagrant individual seems to be comfortable in the company of its North American counterparts, a flock of Ring-necked Ducks. Birders known as “listers” relish the chance to see such an unusual find. Many are traveling from bordering states for a chance to add it to their list of species observed during their lifetime—their “life list”.
Want to start a “life list” of bird sightings? Just get out a piece of paper or start a document on your computer and jot down the name of the bird and the date and location where you saw it for the first time. That’s all there is to it. Beginning a “life list” can be the start of a lifelong passion. And a Tufted Duck wouldn’t be too shabby as the first “lifer” on your list.