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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Nesting along the creek -- confirmed

This is a follow-up to the post a few days ago about Common Mergansers nesting along Salmon Creek.  I inquired whether anyone knew if mergansers had actually nested along the creek somewhere.  Thankfully, Skip Hand responded and also shared this wonderful picture:

Although this image is from June 2011, it documents an adult female with a brood of very young Common Mergansers resting on a log in Salmon Creek.  The ducklings in Skip's photo are too young to fly, providing strong evidence that the mergansers nested somewhere nearby (or at least upstream).

Common Mergansers are cavity nesters, often utilizing old holes made by Pileated Woodpeckers.  They will also nest on the ground in rock crevices, hollow logs, or holes in the ground.

Females incubate their eggs for ~28-35 days.  After hatching, the young only remain in the nest for 24-48 hours.  They are then led to the water by the female.  The female broods the young for the first few weeks, but they can swim and dive within 1-2 days after leaving the nest.  Although the juveniles form cohesive broods, the female usually leaves them before they can fly at approximately 30-50 days after they hatch.

It's valuable that Skip had photographic evidence of Common Mergansers nesting along Salmon Creek but he didn't just document them, he also captured a beautiful image of the habitat and a glimpse into "family life" along the creek.

P.S.  Facts above from The Birds of North America account by Mallory and Metz (1999).

1 comment:

Purslane said...

Love the fish Skip's camera caught midflight.