|Nomonyx dominicus||Order: Anseriformes||Family: Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)|
This handsome duck of tropical America ranges barely into South Texas. Rare as it is in the United States, its considered a bird of Least Concern by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature).
Masked Ducks are nonmigratory, but vagrants occasionally appear in the southeastern United States. They breed in mangrove swamps and marshy waters with heavy tree cover, and their reputation for being secretive is probably due to the difficulties this habitat poses for observation. I saw my lifer at the Viera Wetlands in Melbourne, Florida, where dozens of birders were watching one male mingling with teals and shovelers. The only other place I’ve seen this species is Peru.
Masked Ducks were once placed in the same genus as the Ruddy Duck, but now are considered the only species in Nomonyx.