Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Common Mergansers

Mergansers are neat birds, with their fluffy feather crests and pointed bills, atypical for ducks.  This January, a small flock of female Common Mergansers (Mergus merganser) has been hanging out on the ponds at CSU Stanislaus; several stopped here last winter as well.  One foggy morning last week I stopped to get a few photos. 

Common Mergansers are typically found on freshwater lakes and rivers, and occasionally in estuaries during the winter.  They spend the summer months in northern forests, from Northern California up to Washington and across the Rocky Mountains, as well as across much of Canada.  There they nest in tree cavities near water, most commonly in mature forests.  They winter over much of the United States, with the exception of the southeastern part of the country.

Common Mergansers are diving ducks, perfectly suited for catching fish using their serrated pointed bill.  They prefer lakes and streams that are less than about 12 feet deep, though they have been known to dive deeper in search of fish. 

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