Monday, February 07, 2005
Many thanks to Randy Emmitt of RLEPhoto for giving me permission to use his photo of a hooded merganser. His site has lots of great butterfly and dragonfly pictures too.
Mergansers, we got 'em! This is one of my favorite ducks, and luckily for us they love farm ponds.
They are very wary birds, and so far all my photo attempts have ended up in fuzzy frustration because mergansers spook so easily.
I guess I could set up a blind, go out before daybreak, and try to guess which pond they'll land in IF they come that morning, but... nah.
Randy told me that he was able to get this picture at a pond where the ducks were used to people feeding them. I don't think that's normal behavior for mergansers, but every now and then we have also found some supposedly non-feedable bird lining up for handouts with all the other mallards, Canada geese, etc.
When they are feeling insecure or threatened, Mergansers' crests stand up, as on the male at left. The brown-colored female on the right is not as concerned (her crest is fairly flat).
Mergansers dive completely underwater to catch fish. They are only in Alabama in the winter, and breed mostly in the northern US and Canada.
We rarely see them travel alone. Last winter we saw several groups of up to 10 or so, but this year they have come mostly in twos and threes. Sometimes two males and one female, sometimes the other way around.