Tag Archives: merganser

Herding Ducks

This little mama merganser is proficient at raising a brood.  I don’t know how many she started out with but I’ve seen her with 7 ducklings for over a week now.

mama merganser with 7 ducklings
As many as will fit while mama can stay afloat

Here’s a video to show how they are progressing in their fishing abilities:

Merganser Ducklings

I love it when Mama Merganser parades her little ones past our house on the Alsea River!  One or two always seem to hitch a ride on her back.

Mama merganser with 7 chicks hitching ride
Mama merganser with 7 chicks hitching ride

At least until she dives.  If they’re going to get stronger, they’ve got to do it on their own!

Merganser Chicks in Formation

The Merganser chicks’ wings are developing.  They aren’t big enough to fly yet but they can dive and they look like they are flying under water.

Short wings of juvenile Common Mergansers
Short wings of juvenile Common Mergansers

Mama Merganser is on the left in the next photo.  Compare her wings, which include a white patch, to her chicks.  They’ve had their nap and are now ready to get back to business.

common merganser female with chicks
Mom getting her chicks prepared for take-off

Before this family landed on the rocks of the Alsea River, Mama Merganser was chasing something in the river.  I couldn’t see what it was but 2 Mallards also came from across the river quacking at the same thing.  Whatever it was never came back.  The Mallards didn’t even have chicks with them.  I thought it was cool that they joined forces with Mama Merganser.

Common Merganser with 11 chicks
Common Merganser with 11 chicks!

With as many predators who love the tender merganser veal I’m always impressed by the number of chicks a mom is able to raise.  This mom has eleven chicks and it is probably due to their strict obedience to her.

Signs of Spring

The signs of spring are everywhere!

My neighbor calls these flowers a honeysuckle.  I finally saw these for sale at the local market!  They are Azaleas.  They smell so pretty!

Honesuckle-flowers

The Common Mergansers are starting their courting.  The female mergansers seem the most aggressive.  Females chase off other females when they get too close to the man she likes.  The guys don’t seem to care who is close.  Sometimes the males just swim away from all the drama but sometimes they like to watch the girl-fight.

CommonMerganserCouple
For Pete’s sake Mabel, fix your hair!

I’ve seen several male mallards but no females yet.

mallard-male-2

Here’s a lone Hooded Merganser female.  It seems like the hoodies courtship season comes a little later.

hooded-merganser-female

Doin’ the Hokey Pokey on the Alsea River

I love to watch the winter ducks on the Alsea River.

Female Common Merganser
Female Common Merganser
Male Common Merganser
Male Common Merganser
Male Common Merganser
Put your right foot in – put your right foot out
Male Common Merganser
Put your left foot in – put your left foot out
Male Common Merganser
and turn yourself about
Goldeneye
Female Barrow’s Goldeneye

Goldeneye

What if the Hokey Pokey IS what it’s all about?

Merganser Courtship

Springtime is full of activity as ducks try to attract the attention of the opposite sex.  Males attract females with their vibrant colors.

Male Common Merganser
Male Common Merganser

The female common mergansers don’t change their plumage much, if at all.

Female Common Merganser
Female Common Merganser

But their attitude seems to change quite a bit during courtship.  They choose a mate and chase the other males away.  Sometimes it looks like she’s even grouchy with her mate though.

(By the way, I don’t have any control over what videos Youtube displays after mine. Please tell me if it shows offensive video choices.)

[youtube https://youtu.be/ugfeZASnaQI]

When it’s time to mate, though, the female gets very quiet.

[youtube https://youtu.be/TK8BkymqDV8]

She probably laid stretched out in the water for about 5 minutes before her partner was ready.