Spring has arrived, the ducks are getting frisky. We’ve a pair of merganser ducks doing some serious courting in our cove at the cottage. I managed to snap a few pics of them this afternoon as they floated by our dock.
These are officially known as Common Mergansers, fish eating ducks that have serrated edges on their bills to help them grip their prey. In some places they are called “sawbills”, and because they dive underwater to catch food, they are called diving ducks.
According to Wilkipedia, in addition to fish, mergansers eat a range of aquatic prey, including molluscs, crustaceans, worms, insect larvae, and amphibians, and if opportunity arises, they will catch and eat small mammals and birds may be taken.
In these pics the male is the colorful one, he is sporting his “breeding plumage” which is a white body, with a variable salmon-pink tinge, a black head with an iridescent green gloss, and a grey tail. His wings are largely white on the inner half, black on the outer half.
Once breeding season (July-October) ends the male’s plumage will revert back to the mostly grey-brown body with reddish brown head and white chin similar to the females. When that happens it is called the “eclipse”.
It won’t be long until we have 8-12 young ducklings swimming by the camp behind their mother. Mergansers usually nest in cavities in old trees and when the young are hatched the mother will carry them to the water in her bill one at a time where they learn to feed on freshwater invertebrates and small fish.
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