Continuing from my previous post on ducks, I’m moving on now to mergansers and yes, the goose.
Common Mergansers were tricky ones the first time I identified them especially in differentiating them from the Red-breasted Merganser. They swim through the water with amazing agility and such elegance! Larger than the other ducks I’ve talked about, the males have brilliant green heads and a bright orange, slender beak. Living year-round in the Pacific Northwest, they are said to live in mostly freshwater lakes and rivers while rarely being found in ocean or saltwater estuaries.1, 2 I have seen them on the coast here in sheltered waters on numerous occasions.
Hooded Mergansers are elegant little ducks that are one of my personal favourites. The males have a beautiful white crest which they can collapse with contrasting black colouring. Lucky for me, they live in the Pacific Northwest year-round and inhabit lakes, ponds, estuaries and rivers and nest in empty tree cavities.3, 4 The Seattle Audubon Society lists them as species of concern primarily due to loss of optimal nesting sites and the mature age at which they breed, resulting in smaller populations than many other ducks.5
A diving duck, the Lesser Scaup is found in freshwater environments more commonly than the Greater Scaup and are abundant across inland waters. They winter in coastal California, the Pacific Northwest through to Florida while mating in the interior BC to Manitoba and Alaska. They look very similar to the Greater Scaup, mainly varying in size so I took an educated guess mine was of the lesser type.6, 7
And the Canada Goose, sadly considered a pest in many places, thrives in suburban and urban areas where they often live in year-round despite their migratory roots. They were introduced to these areas by people for hunting as well as being introduced overseas to Europe and New Zealand (Environment and Climate Change Canada). The birds have been culled in Brooklyn and Oregon, New Zealand, Seattle and recently in Victoria, BC. Despite all the issues, I still love them and hope a more humane solution can be found. For more reading about the Canada Goose, I found this blog post by a Vancouver Island University student to be very well-written and informative.