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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Hooded Merganser Nest

Female Hooded Merganser in nest box

Leaving the box to go feed

Remember back in April, we saw a pair of Hooded Mergansers flying together around our property, Bobolink Farm, and hoped they would nest here?

Well we have suspected that they might be nesting because we've seen Mrs. Hooded Merganser fly from near our barn out to the pond. Last night around 7 pm, I actually saw her coming out of the large bird house we have near the barn. Yeah! She's nesting.

She's remarkably secretive about it and only leaves the box a few times a day to go down to the pond to feed, so unless you're standing looking at the box at that time, you wouldn' t know she was there. Originally we had put up that box for a Screech Owl but these are quite rare in our neck of the woods, and Mrs. Merganser doesn't care if it was an owl house, it suits her just fine.

Incubation is about 32-41 days. The baby ducks can't fly when they fledge but just jump out of the box. They're specially adapted to withstand the fall and not get hurt. They then walk with momma down to the pond. They're what is know as "precocial" young, that is, they're born fully feathered and can feed themselves. Mrs. Mergansers's job, once they are born, is to keep them safe from danger. Birds such as American Robins have what's know as "altricial" young, who are born helpless and practically featherless, and are fed by the parents while in the nest.

It's such fun to think Mrs. Merganser is in her snug nest right near our garden, listening to our conversations as we walk around, just secretively going about her business of making more Hooded Mergansers. It would be so great to see the babies jump out of the nest, but we don't know when her first egg was laid and when they will hatch. So, without watching the box constantly, or extreme luck, we probably won't see it. But who knows.

Photos © Lillian Stokes, 2007


me and my camera said...

What unique pictures! And so very interesting.

The Zen Birdfeeder said...

Here's wishing you that "extreme luck" you're hoping for. I'm being selfish, though 'cause I know you'll share photos if you see them emerge!