Sunday, March 13, 2022

Common Merganser

I've struggled to find common mergansers. There are not many siting's on eBird, in our area. I made a first visit to Lake Silverwood, in the Cajon Pass area, to see some that were reported there and I found hooded, but not common mergansers. I found a bunch of them on a private reservoir in Mentone, but they kept on the other side of the reservoir from me and I was not able to get very close (and the photos were poor). This past Saturday I drove up to Lake Silverwood again and this time did find common mergansers and was able to get relatively close.
A female at Lake Silverwood. 
They have a crest of long head feathers that can form an erect crest, or the feathers can lie smoothly behind the head. They have a bill and legs that are red to brownish red (brightest on adult males and more brownish on juveniles). Males in breeding plumage have a black head with a green sheen, a white body, a gray tail and rump. 
This photo was taken at the Mentone Reservoir. A male is back right. Two females are center/left and a ring-necked duck is right/center. 

This phot was also taken at the Mentone Reservoir. There are 10 females, 1 male back/right, a canvasback left/center and a ring-necked duck center/left. 
Females and "eclipse" mails (those not in breeding plumage) have a reddish-brown head, a white chin and otherwise are mostly gray. The look quite a bit like the red-breasted merganser females, but are distinguished by the white chin and a distinct line between the reddish head and gray neck and body. Juveniles, both male and female, look like adult females, but have a short white stripe with black edges between the eye and bill. 
These females were all seen at Lake Silverwood. 

They eat primarily fish, nest in holes in trees, and live primarily on lakes and rivers in forested areas. 
Immature birds (here with a ruddy duck) with a white stripe and black edges between the eye and bill. 

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