I guess the predominant factor is where they raise their young, and if that is the determining criteria, then the headline of this post should be "They're Home!"
I am a member of a Facebook group called Birds of Alaska, where people post photos of birds they've seen in Alaska. It's much like an online bird-watchers group, and it has been going crazy lately as ducks and geese and songbirds return from their winter vacations to build nests, lay eggs, and raise a new generation that will follow their parent's behavior for years on end.
I carry a camera with me everywhere I go outside my home. Usually it's s small point and shoot with a 20X zoom. I used it a few days ago to take photos of a mallard pair at Tern Lake. They were about 50 feet across a shallow pond and it took every bit of zoom to get these photos.
I watched as the hen moved closer to the dry grasses along the bank. Had I not seen her go there, I doubt I could have seen her in her perfect camouflage.
This coloration will help protect her from bald and golden eagles as she sits on the nest, slowly incubating a batch of mallardeggs.
The drake, meanwhile, stayed in open water, ready to protect her from me, or perhaps from other mallard drakes.
A day later, I drove a short distance from this area to another lake in a narrow pass through two mountains. Because this area is in shade most of the day, spring is a bit later.
Two Barrow's Goldeneyes were padding about in a small puddle of open water near the shore. This time, I had the good camera and the excellent lens.
Note how clear and calm the water is. Not only can you see the bottom perfectly, you can see the ducks
|The showy drake.|
|And the incredible, blue-eyed hen.|
Welcome home, friends. We are all so happy to see you again.