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Monday, March 10, 2014

Hooded Merganser Sighting!

This shot is far away, but this is what first caught my eye.
It has been a while since I've posted about clogging up traffic because of a bird sighting, but it happened once again.   TLC staff was just returning from "eviction day" (cleaning out nest boxes to get ready for our spring/summer residents--more to come in a later blog) driving along Creek Road, when a flash of white caught my eye.  At first glance I assumed it was a Common Merganser--pretty cool but....after stopping (on a busy road with no shoulders) I saw it was actually a Hooded Merganser PAIR! 

It is a little blurry--they are fairly quick swimmers, but hopefully you can catch
the neat crest and the coloration of the pair.  The male is the more brightly
colored duck.
I do not know if you have ever had the fortune of seeing these beautiful ducks but they are my absolute favorite to view.   The male is brightly marked in black and white and sports a large crest above his head, but the female is just as neat featuring a rusty red crest above her head.   Similar to Wood Ducks, these are cavity nesters, making their homes in the hole of a tree.  They are diving ducks, and will eat crayfish, aquatic insects, amphibians, mollusks, and vegetation.  Prey be warned--these ducks can actually see under the water! 

I know the pictures from my cell phone are terrible--but remember, I was clogging up a windy road during a busy time of the day.   I challenge you to get better photographs than I by using TLC's Eco Shack which is located at the Marshall Bridge Preserve and faces the Red Clay Creek just a tad further downstream from where I found my Hooded pair.  Mink and beaver sightings have been high this year, so using the Eco Shack is a wonderful way to spend a spring afternoon wildlife watching!

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