Saturday, October 17, 2009

Hooded Merganser Visit

This evening a male hooded merganser visited the beaver pond. He decided to preen on the food cache located beside the beaver lodge. I couldn't get a sharp photo and this one is the best of a blurry lot. Hoodies are pretty uncommon in the Hinton area and we usually only see them during spring and fall migration. Our area is near the northern limit of their Alberta distribution.

This second-smallest member of the merganser tribe feeds on small fish. By now he's probably full of brook sticklebacks from the pond. Hooded mergansers nest in tree cavities located near small woodland ponds. There are about a dozen pileated woodpecker cavities in the area, which would make good nesting sites. We also will be putting up nest boxes this winter. Wouldn't it be great to someday see a brood of hooded mergansers on Maxwell Lake?

There's a postscript to this story. When we came by 2 hours later there were 3 beavers around the lodge, and one youngster was curious about the stranger fishing beside the food cache. It followed the somewhat distraught duck around until he decided to escape by climbing out onto the food cache.

1 comment:

bBetaHouse said...

This smallest Merganser (with the largest crest) has been delighting all who come by for several days now. It was still at the beaver pond Tuesday October 20 at 4:00pm. Salt and Salt (1976 Birds of Alberta) say that Hooded Mergansers are never very common but in the last two weeks of October are often seen in small groups on woodland ponds.