One of the most unique birds that you’ll see on our campus is the Hooded Merganser:
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What they look like: A male hooded merganser is a small to medium sized duck with a long, narrow bill. It has a black crest with a patch of white and a black face. It has a white chest and brown wings with streaks of white and has yellow eyes. A female hooded merganser has a brown crest and body with a white chest. She has brownish black wings with brown eyes. they are 16-19″ in length.
Where you’ll see them: The hooded merganser lives in North Carolina year-round but sticks to shallow waters and swampy areas. They usually nest in holes that they find in trees. We have spotted this bird in the pond behind our school. He is often seen in the water.
What they eat: Their daily diet consists of fish, aquatic insects, crustaceans and crayfish. They capture their prey by diving underwater. They spy their prey by looking underwater with a third transparent eyelid.
What they sound like: The Hooded Merganser is silent except when mating. The male’s call sounds like a deep frog-like sound. When they fly, the wings produce a loud, whistling sound. The female has no call.
Other interesting facts: A female can lay up to 4 to 44 eggs. They are the 2nd smallest of the 6 living species of Mergansers. The male’s crest can be seen raised or flattened. They are typically shy during mating season.
Where you can learn more:
Written by Danielle C and Midori S