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Sunday, November 12, 2006

Common Mergansers

Common Mergansers, (female left, male right)

Recently we had a few, migrant Common Mergansers on our pond. These are such elegant ducks, with their long bodies and cruise-control attitude. The dramatic colors of the male stand out at a distance. His head is iridescent and usually looks dark, or may appear dark green when the sun reflects on it right. I love the female's jaunty, rufous crest. These are diving ducks who plunge down just when you're trying to find them, then bob up elsewhere, like a cork. They eat fish, crustaceans and mollusks. The Common Merganser is more apt to be found on fresh water during migration and winter, whereas, its similar appearing relative, the Red-breasted Merganser, is more likely to be found on salt water at those times.

Just when we have said good-bye to all the fall migrating warblers and shorebirds, we can greet the next wave of new faces — the ducks. It's one of the many things that keep birding interesting for us. See if you can find some migrant ducks on water areas near you.

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