News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Sisters Country birds

Quickly moving rivers and streams are home to the Common Merganser (Mergus merganser). Cruising jet-like up and down waterways, only a few inches above the ripples, landing and then diving for fish and crustaceans with their serrated bills, this Merganser sports either a vivid rust-colored crest (female) or a iridescent green head (male) that is a joy to behold.

The Common Merganser nests in hollowed-out trees, on cliffs or on the ground, normally on the banks of rivers. Laying six to 17 pale white or yellowish eggs which are incubated for 28 to 35 days, the chicks then follow their mother to the river where they immediately begin feeding.

They locate their prey by sight, and therefore tend to feed in clear waters, less than 12 feet deep, including estuaries, coastal bays, lakes, streams. By thinning fish populations in lakes and ponds, Common Mergansers allow the remaining fish to thrive, because they have less competition for the habitat’s limited resources.

Thus, more fish reach larger sizes. Common Mergansers are considered keystone predators, acting to control the populations of many inland fish such as perch and bass. Wilderness lakes where Mergansers feed generally produce larger, healthier fish than lakes without predation.

Around the world mergies are referred to as sheldrakes, sawtooths, and fish duck. A group of ducks are called a raft, a paddling, a flush, a team or a brace.

For more Common Merganser photos visit http://www.abirdsingsbecauseithas


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