Tag Archives: ducks

Hooded Mergansers (male) © Nathan Goshgarian

Take 5: Hooded Mergansers

Thinking about taking a radical step with your next hairstyle? You could take a cue from the Hooded Merganser, a common but striking duck with an over-the-top (pun intended), fan-shaped, collapsible crest atop their heads. Adult males have bold black-and-white crests while females sport a cinnamon-colored version of the ‘do. Either coloring would certainly set you apart in a crowd!

Awkward on land but graceful in the water, Hooded Mergansers are diving ducks, preferring small ponds, rivers, and wetlands where they can dive for fish, amphibians, mollusks, and crayfish. They use their eyesight to hunt below the water surface and even have an extra set of transparent eyelids that act as a natural pair of “swim goggles” to protect their eyes.

Here are five fantastic photos of Hooded Mergansers from our annual Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest. The entries for the 2019 photo contest are rolling in, so submit yours for consideration soon!

Hooded Mergansers (male) © Nathan Goshgarian
Hooded Mergansers (male) © Nathan Goshgarian
Hooded Merganser (male) © Rob Griffith
Hooded Merganser (male) © Rob Griffith
Hooded Merganser (female) © Michael Rossacci
Hooded Merganser (female) © Michael Rossacci
Hooded Merganser (male) © Sandy Murphy
Hooded Merganser (male) © Sandy Murphy
Hooded Merganser (male) © Kim Nagy
Hooded Merganser (male) © Kim Nagy
Harlequin Duck © Carol Duffy

Take 5: Winter Ducks

Winter is a wonderful time to see some colorful characters around your neighborhood—namely wintering waterfowl. In late fall and winter, the majority of waterfowl species return to wearing their bright and more colorful breeding plumages and with more than 25 species of ducks, geese, and swans that regularly spend the winter in Massachusetts, you’ll have lots to add to your birding list.

Here are five species of ducks you may spot hanging around lakes, ponds, rivers, and ocean-side viewpoints, depending on their preferred habitat. Learn more about wintering waterfowl in the winter issue of Explore member magazine and find an expert naturalist-led winter birding trip hosted by a wildlife sanctuary near you.

All of these photos were submitted to our annual Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest. Check out the recently-announced winners of the 2018 contest today!

Harlequin Duck © Carol Duffy
Harlequin Duck © Carol Duffy
Red-breasted Merganser © David Peller
Red-breasted Merganser © David Peller
Ring-necked Duck © Lea Fiega
Ring-necked Duck © Lea Fiega
Common Eider © David Sheehy
Common Eider © David Sheehy
Northern Pintail © Roger Debenham
Northern Pintail © Roger Debenham
© Glenn Rifkin

Take 5: Bottoms Up!

Waterfowl exhibit a whole host of different feeding behaviors, like diving, grazing, or foraging. The most common, however (or at least the most commonly recognized) is “dabbling” or “tipping”. Dabbling ducks like the Mallards pictured below will simply “tip up” in shallow water to forage on the aquatic plants along the bottom. Swans, geese, and teals also display this behavior, although their varying neck lengths allow each species to access food at different depths. It’s a perfectly practical adaptation but one that can certainly be amusing to watch.

Here are five photos of Mallards dabbling away for your amusement. All of these photos have been submitted to our annual Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest. Bottoms up, duckies!

Mallards © Glenn Rifkin

Mallards © Glenn Rifkin

Mallards © Nicole Mordecai

Mallards © Nicole Mordecai

Mallards © Kris Bates

Mallards © Kris Bates

Mallards © Keith Gerrard

Mallards © Keith Gerrard

Mallards © Denise Cote

Mallards © Denise Cote

Green-winged Teal © Matt Filosa

Take 5: Migrating Waterfowl

Fall is a great time to see a variety of waterfowl as they pass through Massachusetts on their way to their wintering grounds. Brant, Surf and White-winged Scoters, and Red-breasted Mergansers are best viewed along the sea coast, while Northern Pintails, Green-winged Teal, and Ring-necked Ducks are more likely to be found in marshes or on open bodies of freshwater anywhere in the state.

To see waterfowl to best advantage, join an expert naturalist during a guided fall waterfowl program at one of Mass Audubon’s wildlife sanctuaries. Or simply enjoy these five spectacular images of migrants you might be lucky enough to spot yourself, all previously submitted to our Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest.

Female Red-breasted Merganser © Nicholas Corvinus

Female Red-breasted Merganser © Nicholas Corvinus

Northern Pintails at Joppa Flats © Ken DiBiccari

Northern Pintails at Joppa Flats © Ken DiBiccari

Buffleheads © Myer Bornstein

Buffleheads © Myer Bornstein

Ring-necked Duck © Lea Fiega

Ring-necked Duck © Lea Fiega (also pictured: Mallard ducks)

Green-winged Teal © Matt Filosa

Green-winged Teal © Matt Filosa

Take 5: Mallards on the Move

Ducks are a familiar sight in our urban and suburban parks, having adapted over time to thrive in developed areas. There are dozens of species of ducks, but thanks to Robert McCloskey’s popular children’s book Make Way for Ducklings, most folks are familiar with the Mallard species, the most abundant waterfowl in Massachusetts and, indeed, the United States.

Mallard males are easily recognizable, with their glossy green heads, bright yellow bills, and white neck rings. Females are a bit more demure, with mottled brown coloring and orange-brown bills, but both males and females sport a blue patch bordered by white in their wings.

In spring, female mallards search for good places to make their nests: dry ground close to water, preferably concealed by grass or shrubbery. Occasionally, their nesting spot of choice may be a fenced yard, a swimming pool, or the courtyard of a building.

Fences and walls are not much of a problem for the mother duck, who can fly right over the top, but once her ducklings hatch, they may be trapped as they are unable to fly for their first 60 days. If you encounter a mallard nest in such a problem area, this story of a local Newton family and their resident mallard, “Quackie”, should offer some solutions (and warm your heart!).

Here are five great photos of mallards from our Picture This: Your Great Outdoors photo contest to celebrate some of our favorite feathered storybook heroes. Submissions for the 2018 photo contest open in early summer, so stay tuned!

Female Mallard with Ducklings © Virginia Sands

Female Mallard with Ducklings © Virginia Sands

Mallard ducks in flight © Richard Antinarelli

Mallard ducks in flight © Richard Antinarelli

Mallard Duck © Sandy Selesky

Mallard Duck © Sandy Selesky

Female mallard swimming with ducklings © Hien Nguyen

Female mallard swimming with ducklings © Hien Nguyen

Female mallard with ducklings © Derrick Jackson

Female mallard with ducklings © Derrick Jackson