Thursday, February 19, 2009

Bufflehead or Hooded Merganser

And just in time to be included in my Great Backyard Bird Count!

Every year in late winter or early spring and if the pond isn't frozen, a pair of ducks spends a day or two paddling around. Maybe they're on their way somewhere and just resting here, but I always wish they would stay and raise a family.

These, I first thought, are Buffleheads; however, after staring at the pictures and going through my bird book several times, I'm now leaning more toward Hooded Mergansers because of the breast color and stripe. Buffleheads seem more white from breast all the way across the bottom of their bodies. Most of the ducks that land here are very wary and it is difficult to get close enough to get a good picture - they either fly away or dive under the water.

One year it's Wood Ducks, another year Mallards and there are almost never more than two, a mated pair. Only once have I seen two species of duck on the pond at the same time. In any event, it's a moment of absolute happiness for me to observe wildlife. I wish them well and Godspeed on their journey home.