Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Hooded Merganser

Has anybody been down the harbor lately? If not, you should! Between now till spring is a great time to see a wide and diverse collection of waterfowl along the lakefront. Now that many of the inland lakes and ponds have frozen up many species of ducks have taken to the open waters of the Great Lakes. The Hooded Merganser is one of them.

The smallest of the three mergansers found in North America, the Hooded Merganser male sports an inflatable head crest of feathers that is used to attract the females.Adult males are a sight to behold, with sharp black-and-white patterns set off by chestnut flanks. Mergansers are fairly common on small ponds and rivers in Canada and Northern United States, where they dive for fish, crayfish, and other food, seizing it in their thin, serrated bills. They nest in tree cavities; the ducklings depart with a bold leap to the forest floor when only one day old.

I've seen a quite a few Hoodies around here this winter, mostly in the calmer waters by Carre Hagel Park, the Festival Park Lagoon and the Pugh Marina. In fact, I saw a dozen of them last weekend.

The top picture of the male was taken at the Festival Park Lagoon on 1/6/2013. This guy was just drifting along with a few females when I took this picture from my car on the Causeway. The bottom picture the female was taken at the Pugh Marina on 12/29/2012. Even though it's a little obscured from the falling snow, I like it because a fish can be seen dangling in her beak.


OrbsCorbs said...

Thank you, drew. Now I know what I was looking at.

I've seen these guys down by the harbor. It's incredible what nature will do to the markings of male birds.

legal stranger said...

Thanks for the pics, I too often see these during the winter in the harbors.

drewzepmeister said...

The Hoodies are just one of the many species in the harbor lately... We've got Common Goldeneyes, Red Breasted Mergansers, Common Mergansers, Gadwalls, Scuaps, Black Ducks, and Buffleheads just to name a few...