Saturday, March 28, 2015

Science on Saturday: Common Mergansers

We had a mini science lesson this morning.  Living on the lake we often see a black and white diving duck (as we've nicknamed them) through the years.  We see these black and white ducks every year around this time and usually they are out in the open water that's is not close enough to our home to really see any details, even with our binoculars.

Today, however, the ducks were right off the shore and using the binoculars we were able to see such amazing details.  


After looking them up in Alec's National Audubon Society Field Guide to North America we discovered that they are called the Common Mergansers.

We have a few males and females and we learned that they are the only mergansers where the females have the crested heads.

  • We learned that they dive for fish and we've noticed that they can disappear under water for quite some time and for long distances; just like the cormorant we had here over the summer.  
  • We learned that they usually live in Canada and Eastern Alaska but they will migrate south for the winters down to New England, the Great Lakes, and even into northern New Mexico. 
  •  We learned that they pair off for mating in late winter and that is why we're seeing sets of males and females together out in the water. 
 Not bad for a Saturday morning!
Common Merganser Photo
Photo courtesy of Cornell University All About Birds Site;
you can read more about the Common Merganser there too. 

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