Monday, February 23, 2009

Of Winter Days and Ducks

On our trip along the Mongaup Reservoir we discovered a pair of Hooded Mergansers (Lophodytes cucullatus) in the icy river and stopped for quite awhile watching them work their way up along the far shore. In this frigid water, they are making long dives, coming up to preen, then back down again. We were cold even in the warm car (with the windows down so we could see better) yet the mergansers were lounging in the icy water seeming to be just a comfortable as if they were taking a slow trip in the Bahamas.

The male and female mergansers look so different one could almost think they belonged to entirely different families. The dashingly smart male has a broad rounded crest of pure white edged with jet black; the female is smaller and gray-brown on the upper part of her head. Her yellowish brown crest is shorter and more pointed, her chin whitish and the upper part of her neck and the sides of her head are a gray-brown. The males do not acquire the full beauty of their plumage until the third spring and resemble the females for their first year. During the second year the male's crest becomes more developed and the black and white markings on the head and body become more distance. It is not until the third spring that their plumage reaches its full elegance.

5 Comments:

Blogger dinzie said...

Nice looking birds.. looks so cold though ...

D

4:16 AM  
Blogger kerrdelune said...

Endment, these gorgeous birds are some of my favorites ever, and thank you for sharing them!

9:23 AM  
Blogger robin andrea said...

I remember the first time I saw a Hooded Merganser, such a beautiful creature. I love the photos in the previous post, too. Beautiful and still very wintry.

11:14 AM  
Blogger LauraHinNJ said...

They're my favorites! Glad you got to enjoy them and the cold.

;-)

11:21 PM  
Blogger Endment said...

dinzie, kerrdelune, robin andrea, LauraHinNJ --- Thanks to you for dropping by and sharing the Mergansers with me. Now I really want a good closeup shot --- Well I can dream can't I?

7:27 PM  

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