A pair of Hooded Mergansers were present on the Fox River in downtown Waukesha WI. today. The female has been around for a couple of days but a male arrived this afternoon. The pair hung together swimming, catching prey and preening. Other species present were Common Goldeneye Ducks (m-f), Red-breasted (m-f) ~30 Common Mergansers (m-f), Redheads (m-f) with many Mallards (m-f). Scaups were also present but I never checked to see if they were G or L as I was focused on the Hooded Mergansers. The river was wide open today with milder temps and the duck were more spread out. The Mute Swans in the area were still the highlight at the river walk to pedestrians, bikers and walkers. Photographs were taken on March 18, 2014.
Binomial name: Lophodytes cucullatus
Category: Duck, Geese, and Swans
Size: 18” long, 24” wing span
Weight: 1.4 lb.
Habitat: This secretive duck prefers wooded freshwater wetlands where mature, cavity-bearing trees exist for nesting. They will also use open wetlands where next boxes have been put installed.
Diet: Small fish, crustaceans (especially crayfish), amphibians, and sometimes vegetation.
Nesting: They select out of the way places, and the nest is usually well hidden on wooded ponds, lakes and rivers. In most cases it is hard to locate even by experienced birders and researchers. Nest is a shallow bowl usually made of existing materials in the cavity and then slowly adding her belly down after she starts laying 7-13 eggs. Nest cavities are usually 10-50 off the ground.
Cool facts: Hooded Mergansers have eyes that adapt to water clarity, if the water is murky or clear, they can still see their prey. Considered to be one of the handsomest ducks in North America.