Hooded Merganser ducks
Hooded Mergansers, and Double-crested Cormorants were spotted at the pond in the Silverlake Community Center’s small park area here in The Villages, FL this past week. I also spotted a small flock of Lesser Scaup ducks at the nearby Lake Paradise right at Paradise Park in The Villages.
I just am wowed by the huge variety of water birds we have here in The Villages during the winter months! This bunch of scaups have become used to people and behave like typical park ducks begging for, and receiving hand-outs (please do not feed bread to ducks as it is not the healthiest for them). Someone was flinging bread cubes to the seagulls and the ducks rushed over to get in on that action.
Most wild ducks are very wary of people so this behavior of coming near the shore when people are around is unusual in migratory birds. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the slightly larger version of the picture. Enjoy!
Drake (male) Lesser Scaup
A pair of Lesser Scaup ducks
Two pairs of Hooded Mergansers came to visit my immediate neighborhood yesterday afternoon which surprised and delighted me no end! The migratory ducks were swimming in the large rainfall retention basin pond, (newly filled with storm water) located two blocks down from my home here in Marion County, Florida.
The ducks likely would not find very much to eat in that basin these days due to the pond having been previously almost totally dried up in recent weeks (big storms for past two days replenished the basin’s water). In fact, this area usually looks like a sunken lawn. Hooded Mergansers like eating fish, frogs, and aquatic insects and worms. Perhaps this foursome did get some small insects or worms for their meal. I hope so.
By the way, the hens are the ones with the fuzzy-looking brown crest on top of their head. I had been hoping to see some ducks here in Florida and was especially excited to see some so close to home! I took these pictures at about 4:00PM yesterday (Jan. 14, 2014) here on my street (hiding behind a Camellia bush!). Please click on the thumbnail image to see the larger picture. Enjoy!
Drake Hooded Merganser
Migratory and resident ducks have been here at the little farm pond recently. I say resident, because the Mallards seem to be here off and on all year-long. The migratory ducks have been the Hooded Mergansers and the Ring-necked Ducks. Both are diving ducks that eat small fish and insects as well as the occasional pond vegetation. The Ring-necked Ducks are here more often than the Hooded Mergansers. The drake Ring-necked Duck has purplish-black and white feathers and yellow eyes. The hen Ring-necked Duck is light and dark brown.
The drake Hooded Merganser is black, white, and a rusty-brown. The drake Hooded Merganser has the black and white hood of feathers that raises and lowers on its head. The hen Hooded Merganser is a rusty-brown with a more upright, fringed look to the feathers on its head. I recently took these pictures here at the pond. I will post part 2 of this series on pond ducks tomorrow. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the larger picture. Enjoy!
Drake Ring-Necked Duck
Drake Ring-Necked Duck
Drake Hooded Merganser
Ring-Necked Duck and Mallards
A pair of Hooded Merganser Ducks returned to the little pond yesterday. These are Winter visitors to this area. I had a few here last Winter and was wondering when they might come back. I saw the drake with its large white hood, come out of the reeds and paddle around in the middle of the pond. The rusty-grey-brown hen stayed in the reeds until almost dark. These diving ducks eat small fish, turtles, aquatic insects, and on occasion, land insects. There are plenty of fish in this pond so I think these ducks will be quite happy with enough to spare for ol’ Hank heron, too! I took these pictures in my yard on Jan. 7, 2013. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the larger picture. Enjoy!
The little group of Hooded Mergansers were still here yesterday when I took these pictures from outside in my yard. I braved the slightly warmer temperatures (about 29 degrees F.) and snapped from behind an Oak Tree. The Hooded Mergansers were sharing the little pond here with a pair of Canada Geese, and some Mallard Ducks and a couple of Gadwall Ducks. The flock of Wood Ducks were not around. The snow was rapidly melting and the sun was shining. The mergansers are diving ducks. They like eating snails, small fish, smaller turtles and any other small aquatic animals or insects that they can catch. The mergansers also will dive to avoid predators.
The male or drake, will raise his white hood crest when he is alert, afraid, or aggressive. I noticed that when the Canada Geese came near, or the duck surfaced near the goose, the drake merganser had his white hood up. The hens also have a hood but it is a wild-looking fringe of brown that is the same color as the head and neck. The mergansers are migratory ducks and are just here for a quick visit before going north. I enjoyed seeing them. By the way, the pond is frozen about half-way across. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the larger picture. Enjoy!
On Friday, February 10, 2012, I was out looking at the pond and saw a pair of Hooded Mergansers out on the water. The diving mergansers love to swim under the surface and catch small fish, aquatic insects, turtles and snails. They are very beautiful migratory waterfowl. The male is mostly black, a golden-light brown, and white with a white hooded crest that it can raise or lower over his black head. The hen is a cinnamon sable brown with black and white areas. Both genders have long pointed dark brown bills.
I also saw a hen Bufflehead duck paddling with the mergansers. There were several Mallard ducks, a pair of Ring-necked ducks, and a pair of Canada Geese here at the same time, too. We had Hooded Mergansers here a couple of months back. I wonder if these are those same ducks on the reverse trip of their migration? Perhaps so. They are wonderful to watch. It has been quite cold here with a touch of snow on Friday night. Please click on the thumbnail image to see the larger picture. Enjoy!
AFTERNOON UP-DATE: It’s snowing and 19 degrees out today so I am arm-chair wildlife watching through the windows. I spotted about ten Hooded Mergansers on the pond this afternoon. It seems like the pair in today’s post (I took the pictures yesterday) were the “advance scouts”. – Wildlifewatcher