Wednesday, January 9, 2013
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.