Bird of the Week

Photo courtesy Charles Martinez

This week’s Bird of the Week, compliments of the Weminuche Audubon Society and Audubon Rockies, is the common merganser.
Common mergansers are large, elegant ducks found year-round in the rivers and lakes in Pagosa Country. They are a little more shy than mallards, but fairly tolerant of the presence of humans. You may see a male and female pair along the river downtown, but you have an even better chance of spotting a small flock of them in the lakes around town. A mainstay, but always a delight to see, these striking birds are worth watching out for.
There is a big difference in coloring between male and female common
mergansers. Males have stunning white bodies with flashy, emerald green heads and dark backs. The females have a crest on their cinnamon-colored head, a gray body and white throat patch. Both males and females have a bright red beak and feet. In flight, they are distinguished by their long necks and slender beaks.
Common mergansers dive and swim underwater in search of fish and aquatic invertebrates (such as dragonflies, mayflies, beetles and water striders). Local fly fishermen take the presence of common mergansers to mean good fishing because these ducks eat the same prey trout do.
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