I was happy to see a Hooded Merganser on the neighborhood pond on November 13th. Birders affectionately refer to these ducks as "hoodies". They are a "diving" duck. They go down and swim under water to catch their prey, usually small fish. "Dabbling" ducks, like the mallards you see on nearly every pond, simply stick their head under water, or dabble, to gather plants and seeds from shallow water. I reported my hoodie sighting online with Cornell University's eBird program. I checked the eBird history of species reported on this pond and discovered that this was the first one to be reported. I guess we made a little birding history since it was the first record of a "Hoodie in 'da hood". Hoodies generally prefer sheltered ponds and bays, water that is surrounded by wooded hiding places. Our local pond is void of such hiding places. However, birds show up in unexpected places during migration when they are simply looking for a temporary place to rest and some food for refueling.
The adult male hoodies are very easily identified when seen in their breeding plumage and you'll see why with some images at the end of this post. Telling the difference between adult and juvenile females, however, is a bit of a challenge. Below is an image of the duck when I first located it last week. I've seen it several days since, including this evening on my way home from work. Based on some expert opinion I believe it is a juvenile female, but I'm not completely confident since I rarely see juveniles for this species.
|Hooded Merganser on Manila Creek Pond in Pleasant Grove, UT|
|Adult Male and Female Hooded Merganser|
South Jordan, UT
Keep your eyes open as you pass by your local watering holes. Water foul are on the move and could be coming to a neighborhood near you.