The Diving Goose

Mergus merganserMost of Prospect Lake is frozen and snow covered, so an open patch on the southwestern end is absolutely swarming with Ring-billed gulls and assorted waterfowl, bathing, dabbling, diving close to the shore. There was even a turtle the other day, perhaps popping up to look for spring before retreating back down into the muck.Mergus merganserAmongst the divers, a few Common Mergansers (Mergus merganser) have been present. Above is a male, below is a female. “Merganser” means diving goose, which is a misnomer; they are known as Goosanders in Eurasia (at least to English-speakers). Mergus merganserThe limited open water forced them closer to the shore than they might normally be, but I noticed they stuck to the far edge of the water, when they weren’t underneath it. Mergus merganserSometimes mergansers (we have three species: Hooded and Red-breasted are the other two) are known as sawbills for the teeth-like serrations on their bills, best seen on the picture of the female, which help them grip slippery fish prey. I assume the amazing hook at the tip here is also useful for snagging scaly meals.

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