Hooded Mergansers are usually found in large numbers here in southern New England, but this fall seems to be particularly good for “hoodies.” Hooded Mergansers, which have long been one of my favorite birds, are found on both fresh and brackish water. They eat a variety of small prey, mostly fish, they obtain by diving. Their mergansers cousins, on the other hand, are typically found on either type of water: Common Mergansers favoring freshwater and Red-breasted Mergansers favoring brackish or saltwater.
Mergansers have serrated bills, which is used for holding onto slippery prey. This is shown clearly in the photograph of the female hoodie. Each of the mergansers are examples of sexual dimorphism, in which the males and females have different appearances. The males (shown above) are more strikingly plumaged, while the females (shown below) are duller colored.
Keep your eyes open for mergansers this fall. They’re all over the place.
Let me know what you find out there and feel free to send me your photos using the “reader submitted” page.