Winter Duckfest Part VI — Common Mergansers
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For the past few weeks a small group of Common Mergansers has been hanging out at the large pond in Tucson’s Reid Park. I’ve seen these birds in the wild on a couple of occasions but never in a public park and on a body of water so small as is the Reid Park pond. These large diving ducks spend their summers in the northern United States and Canada living on large lakes and rivers. Why they would choose to winter on a man-made pond that is no more than four or five acres in size is beyond me.
But, I’m grateful for their decision. These ducks are gorgeous.
They are quite large and very distinctive in their appearance. Their long and very narrow red bills are a unique characteristic, shared by other species of merganser but not by other ducks. Another unique characteristic is their crests, a mass of unruly feathers that reminds me of the hair style sported by Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols (google “Sex Pistols” or “Johnny Rotten” if you don’t understand the reference).
One paradoxical aspect of the mergansers’ presence in Reid Park is that these ducks are quite wary of humans. Most of the ducks at Reid Park — and there are a couple hundred of them at present — are inured to the presence of the park’s many visitors and they’ve learned to beg for bread and other snacks that the visitors toss to them. Not the mergansers. These ducks tend to stay in the middle of the pond and they show no interest in begging for food. Good for them.
Images made with a Canon 5Diii, 100-400mm ISII zoom lens, aperture priority setting, ISO 400. The first image, f7.1 @ 1/1600, the second image f7.1 @ 1/2000, the third image, f11 @ 1/640.