By Jeff Reiter
A cool thing happened in January when I least expected it. While walking from the Glen Ellyn YMCA to the Walgreens next door, I noticed that the neighboring water detention area was full of ducks.
All mallards was my first impression, and they were clearly enjoying the open water on this unusually warm winter morning. I paused for a moment to count them and realized there was an impostor. Mixing with the four dozen greenheads was a single American black duck.
Black ducks are not uncommon in DuPage, but they are not everyday birds either. It was a pleasant surprise to see one so close when just going about my usual routine.
Experienced birders know to expect the unexpected, and that's a smart way to approach the hobby if you want to see new birds. There might be an uncommon species, or even a mega-rarity in our midst, but it takes a careful and patient observer to detect it.