Male and female Hooded Mergansers

Two male and one female Hooded Mergansers in the pond at Puntledge Park. Photo by K Clouston

These guys and gals are called ‘hooded’ for a good reason as you can see with the male in the middle and his big boufant crest in black and white even though it is not fully out in this shot.  Another obvious identification feature are the stripes on his back and breast.  Even with the crest down, as seen in the male on the left, the white with black trim is still readily apparent.  The white tapers in the back and can be seen from almost all angles.  These fishing birds are fairly small, about 2/3 the size of our the gulls or Common Mergansers with whom I frequently see them.  They came to the park towards the end of the salmon run and will probably hang around until spring when the fry and smolts head out to sea.  As is usual with birds, the female is not as spectacularly coloured as the male but they still have the conspicuous ‘hairdo’ although for these gals it is a two-tone reddish brown instead of black and white.  As with some other waterbirds, the ‘Hoodys’ are cavity nesters, using old woodpecker holes or tree cavities or maybe even a next box someone was kind enough to install above or near the water.

female Hooded Mergansers, Courtenay, Morrison Creek, Comox Valley

A pair of female Hooded Mergansers racing down the pond. Photo by K Clouston