Common Merganser

The Farmington Bay Wetlands have been so busy this season.

I have seen all types of water fowl and raptors this year.

This is a type of duck that I have never photographed before.

I was stumped about its name.

I finally figured it out after doing quite a bit of research in books and on the internet.


Latin: Mergus merganser americanus

Average length: M 25.5″, F 22.9
Average weight: M 3.64 lbs., F 2.73 lbs.

Description: The long, narrow bill with serrated edges readily distinguishes mergansers from all other ducks. Common mergansers are among the largest ducks, but are less stocky than eiders and goldeneyes. In flight, they appear more elongated than other ducks, flying in trailing lines close to the water’s surface. Male common mergansers have a greenish-black crested head and upper neck. The lower neck, breast and underparts are creamy-white with a variable pink wash. They have black backs and upperwing coverts with white scapulars. The bill is red with a blackish culmen and nail. The legs and feet are a deep red. Female common mergansers have a tufted red-brown head that is clearly defined from the lower neck by a clear whitish chin. The back and sides are silver-gray and the breast and belly are white. The bill is red with a blackish culmen and nail. The legs and feet are deep red.

Breeding: Common mergansers breed from Alaska, the southern Yukon, Labrador and Newfoundland south to central California, Arizona, New Mexico, southern Chihuahua and east of the Rockies to Minnesota, Michigan, New York, New England and Nova Scotia. Common mergansers nest in tree cavities, nest boxes, cliff crevices and on the ground, generally near clear-water rivers in forested regions and on mountainous terrain. Female common mergansers lay an average of 9-12 eggs.

Migrating and Wintering: In winter, the American race of common merganser ranges along the Atlantic coast from Newfoundland almost to Florida, in the interior from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico and on the Pacific coast from the Aleutian Islands to Mexico.

DSC_2146webcommon merganser females

DSC_2150webcommon merganser


I think this was a mother and her two female ducklings.

The females have a chestnut-colored head with a red bill.

The male merganser has a greenish-black head with a red bill.

I didn’t see any males the day I was at the wetlands.

That is what I love about taking pictures.

Everyday is a new day, and a chance to photograph something you have not seen before.

You never know what you will see and if you can get a photo of your subject that is actually in focus.

You have to be very patient and willing to spend many hours of time doing what you love.

The more I learn about photography, the more I need to learn to be pleased with my work.

Photography is a challenge.  You might ask, what is so hard about taking a picture.

It is not until you actually delve into photography do you realize the difficulty of learning a simple skill that really isn’t that simple.

I like the following quotes:

Ralph Waldo Emerson

“That which we persist in doing becomes easier to do, not that the nature of the thing has changed but that our power to do has increased.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

“The question is not what you look at but what you see.”
Henry David Thoreau

“That which we persist in doing becomes easier to do, not that the nature of the thing has changed, but our power to do so is increased.”

Heber J. Grant

William James, a pioneering American psychologist and philosopher, wrote, “The greatest revolution of our generation is the discovery that human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives.”

James, William

The lifelong practice of learning will make your life seem more worthwhile.

Happy Sunday!  Go and learn something new that challenges you.

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