Posts Tagged ‘Lophodytes cucullatus’


Over the past week and a half, I have regularly spotted Hooded Merganser pairs (Lophodytes cucullatus) on our small river. They are handsome little ducks, and readily identified as the male has a brilliant white patch on the back of his head. The female is quite different from the male, but equally interesting, with her grey face accented by a bushy rufus-brown crest. You can get an idea as to the size of these mergansers in the photograph below, in which a pair are swimming beside much larger Canada Geese.


Hooded Mergansers are secretive nesters, preferring secluded woodland stream locations. The female builds her nest in the cavity of a tree or occasionally, in a rock crevice or root hollow. The nest is constructed of dead weeds, roots and leaves, and lined with feathers and down. The pair bond lasts only for a few weeks, and once the female begins incubating her eggs, the male abandons her.

Hooded Merganser numbers, unlike those of many other bird species, have been on the rise in recent decades. The reason for this is not clear, but related factors may include the greater availability of manmade nest boxes and provincial guidelines that require tree harvesters on Crown land to retain a set minimum of cavity trees.


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Hooded Merganser pair

Hooded Merganser pair

The south branch of the South Nation river runs by the back door of Willow House. In the morning, I can lean on the kitchen counter and gaze out the window as I wait for my coffee to brew. The river is always interesting, but since the ice melted off, an assortment of waterfowl have been stopping by, causing me to rush for my camera. The above pair of Hooded Mergansers (Lophodytes cucullatus), shown near the beaver lodge, were very camera shy, swimming rapidly away or taking flight as soon as they caught sight of me.

Canada geese

Canada geese

This pair of Canada geese (Branta canadensis), who spent the afternoon enjoying the sun at the edge of the river, were more co-operative, though still wary.

Wood Ducks

Wood ducks

Three pairs of Wood Ducks (Aix sponsa) floated by and then paddled back up stream.

Mallard pair

Mallard pair

A Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) and his missus spent a few hours grooming themselves on the shore.


Common Grackles

Passerines (songbirds) such as these Common Grackles (Quiscalus quiscula) also use the river to bathe and drink.

At the end of the day, the river and its occupants settle down … or start their busy night’s activity … as the sun sets.
*Creedence Clearwater Revival: Lookin’ Out My Back Door


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