Every late October and November, I am visited by hooded mergansers. Gorgeous, fishing-eating birds( Lophiodytes cucul atus) related to ducks but quite different than them-- or at least the mallards--in behavior. They are most like wood ducks, because they nest in trees, or small holes. Like wood ducks, they're also gorgeous. But these ducks can hold their breath and swim underwater. They have translucent eyelids that protect their eyes underwater, allowing them to hunt small fish and crustaceans. They dive quickly, disappearing for a minute or two, reappearing several yards down the pond. They eat tiny fish, insects, plant life, and down south--custaceans. While wood ducks nest here in the spring and summer, I've never seen hooded mergansers nest around here. I've never seen a hooded merganser chick. However, I see them court and mate all the time, because they visit me during courting season. They love to mate in my pond. Actually, my pond is a huge love bed for mallards, wood ducks, hooded mergansers.
When the hooded mergansers attract mates, they perform an interesting and unique head dance. The fully extended head feathers resemble a large white fan fully spread from the back to the front of their head. This makes them look very top heavy. In fact, when mating, they all look like they have massive heads that appear hard to balance upon their small bodies. When the females are ready to be entertained, the males lift their chests up, shake their fanned white feather back the forward, all while making this soft, buzzing sound. The female, with her chestnut fan, like all females in the bird world, calmly observes and makes her decision based upon beauty and skill. Below are two males performing.
I like to write about people, animals, dogs. I enjoy ideas, good books about ideas, funny books about ideas, funny people who have ideas, advocates for people who don't have voices to express their ideas, and animals who have ideas we can't understand.