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Posts Tagged ‘Hooded Merganser’

These Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus) couples appeared to be on a double date when I spotted them earlier this week at a little suburban pond near where I live. It is now getting to be that time of the year when more and more birds are pairing off.

I took a lot of shots these ducks as they swam by and this is one of the few photos in which all four heads are visible and facing in the same direction. No matter whether you are  photographing animals, birds, or people, it is always a challenge to take a group photograph in which all subjects have pleasing poses..

Hooded Merganser

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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With most birds the shape of their heads is a constant, but with Hooded Mergansers (Lophodytes cucullatus), the shape can be wildly variable. I am not really sure how of the bird’s anatomy, but the “hood” appears to be pretty floppy, creating the effect of multiple “hairstyles.” Here are a few of the styles that a male Hooded Merganser was sporting during a brief period last week at a local suburban pond.

Hooded Merganser

Hooded Merganser

Hooded Merganser

 

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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How would you dry off after a bath without a towel or a blow dryer? You might have to try the approach of this male Hooded Merganser duck (Lophodytes cucullatus), who rose out of the water and flapped his wings to dry off and fluff his feathers. Afterwards, the little duck spent a considerable amount of time adjusting the feathers with his bill, presumably to maximize their insulation value on a cold winter day.

Hooded Merganser

Hooded Merganser

Hooded Merganser

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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During the winter, there are fewer wildlife subjects to photograph than at other times of the year, so I find myself paying a lot of attention to each and every one. Earlier this week at a small suburban pond not far from where I live, I spent a lot of time watching a male Hooded Merganser duck (Lophodytes cucullatus) diving for food. “Hooded Merganser” is a long multi-syllabic name, so I affectionately refer to these ducks as “hoodies.”

This duck appeared to be the only member of his species at the pond, so he was not distracted by having to show off for the females. The “hoodie” would swim along and suddenly would dive. Initially I thought that there was no way that I could capture an image mid-dive—his actions seemed too unpredictable.

However, I gradually began to detect a pattern. It was fascinating to see how he would extend his neck, arch his back, and then plunge into the water. So, I watched and waited for him to extend his neck and then would start shooting. Most of the shots were not successful, but I did manage to capture a few fun photos of the diving “hoodie.”

Hooded Merganser

Hooded Merganser

Hooded Merganser

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I have occasionally been described as a bit of an “odd duck,” which Wiktionary defines as “an unusual person, especially an individual with an idiosyncratic personality or peculiar behavioral characteristics.” That definition certainly fits me (and most other wildlife photographers too, I suspect).

In a more literal sense, “odd duck” is a great way to describe the unusual-looking Hooded Merganser duck (Lophodytes cucullatus). There are no other ducks in my area that look anything like these ducks, so identification is never a problem. Getting good photographs of one, though, can be a problem, because Hooded Mergansers are small and often skittish.

I spotted this handsome male Hooded Merganser yesterday at a suburban pond not far from where I live in Northern Virginia. He was part of a group of about a dozen or so Hooded Mergansers. Most of the members of the group were out in the middle of the pond, but this one hanging out nearer the shore and I was able to get off a few shots before he swam away to link up with the rest of his group.

hooded merganser

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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While I was at Huntley Meadows Park on Wednesday, I spotted this Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus) couple perched on a semi-submerged log, relaxing and preening their feathers. These small ducks have such an unusual and distinctive look that it is hard for me to ignore them whenever I am fortunate to spot them—often they spot me first and my first indication of their presence is when they are flying away from me.

Hooded Merganser

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Ducks do not seem to like to be alone. I will occasionally run across an odd solitary duck, but more often than not, the ducks that I encounter are in pairs or in larger groups. Sometimes the pairs are mixed-gender, like this Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus) couple that was relaxing together recently at Huntley Meadows Park. At other times, the pair may be of the same gender, like these two male Northern Shovelers (Anas clypeata) at the same park that were preening and grooming themselves early one morning—one Facebook viewer speculated that they were getting ready for dates.

Hooded Merganser

Northern Shoveler

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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