Common Mergansers

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Common Mergansers (Anseriformes: Anatidae: Mergus merganser) along Lake Crescent. Photographed 04/18/2015 at Olympic National Park, WA.

Although Common Mergansers (Anseriformes: Anatidae: Mergus merganser) inhabit much of North America, their range shifts with the seasons. They overwinter across a wide swath of the United States, then spend their summers breeding in forests from the northern United States through Canada. They nest in cavities in large trees, and unlike many birds the parents do not feed their young. The tiny, flightless chicks tumble from their nests within a day of hatching and immediately start to hunt for insects on their own. Wherever they roam through life these diving ducks are usually found on lakes and rivers where they feed mostly on small fish, frogs, and invertebrates.

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Common Merganser female (Anseriformes: Anatidae: Mergus merganser) along Lake Crescent. Photographed 04/18/2015 at Olympic National Park, WA.

Adult males of this species have white bodies and dark green, iridescent heads. Females are colored quite differently, having bodies with more gray and crested rust-colored heads. Both sexes have long, serrated orange-red bills.

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Common Mergansers (Anseriformes: Anatidae: Mergus merganser) along Lake Crescent. Photographed 04/18/2015 at Olympic National Park, WA.

Populations of these large ducks have been relatively stable across North America for decades, but they have experienced a decline in some areas. Pollution from pesticides and heavy metals can reduce the abundance of their prey and adversely affect the development of their young. In spite of these threats they’ve managed to thrive across most of their range, at least for now.

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About Jeremy Sell

Science and nature nerd.
This entry was posted in Ecology, Environment, National Parks, Vertebrate Zoology and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Common Mergansers

  1. jessicachayenne says:

    I love it! I printed off a list of all the birds in California and I’ve been highlighting them as I been able to photograph and identify them. Little birds are so hard to identify though! They’re so tiny and so hard to photograph or remember their details. Anyways, love you shots and nature facts!

    Like

  2. Jeremy Sell says:

    Little birds are definitely hard to photograph and identify. My least favorite thing about them is how fast they move around. So hard to get a clear shot.

    The best time I had photographing birds was in the Florida Everglades in April…most of the birds were big and calm and easy to ID.

    And thanks for the kind words…I like your blog as well.

    Liked by 1 person

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