Birds of Seabrook Island

COAST BIRDS
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ANECDOTES

  Hooded Merganser
 
 

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  Order Anseriformes - Waterfowl
   Family Anatidae - Ducks, Geese, and Swans
      Subfamily Anatinae - True Ducks
         Tribe Mergini - Sea Ducks
  Waterfowl vary in size - from teal to swans. They all have webbed feet and dense, waterproof plumage. Most nest on the ground and the nest is lined with down plucked by the female from her breast. Except for two small groups not found in North America, all belong to one (or two) families.
Ducks, Geese, and Swans are waterfowl with their bill finely serrated or grooved on the edge. Their tongue is fleshy. Their front toes are webbed. Males have a functional penis. They are strong fliers and many migrate long distances. 
True Ducks are sexually dimorphic. The female incubates and cares for the young - the male usually deserts early. Ducks undergo a simultaneous molt of their flight feathers and are flightless until the flight feathers of the alternate plumage regrow. Thus, males wear their nuptial plumage on the winter grounds where pair formation occurs in most species. 
Sea Ducks are active swimmers and foot-propelled divers.
Mergansers have long, thin serrated bills and long necks. They are specialized for catching and eating fish. They have serrated bills which help them grasp their prey. Mergansers fly rapidly on pointed wings with shallow wing-beats. Most nest in tree cavities, nest boxes, or on sheltered ground.
 
Cooperative Feeding
 
     
  Hooded Merganser, Lophodytes cucullatus
 
     Cornell     USGS     Wiki     ToL     EoL
        WINTER - Common. SUMMER - Rare (potential breeder)
 WOODED LAKES AND PONDS, TIDAL CREEKS
MORE PICTURES
 
   Hooded Mergansers are our smallest sea duck. They have a "hammerhead" crest that can be raised and lowered - it is reddish-brown in females and has a white center in males. Males have rufous sides and two black spurs on their sides. They have thin serrated bills and are active feeders. Look for the crest - don't confuse them with Buffleheads...
Hooded Merganser Hooded Merganser
   
Male Hooded Merganser. Jenkins Point
Female Hooded Merganser. Jenkins Point
       
  RANGE: Hooded Mergansers breed across southern Canada and from New England to the Great Lakes to the west Coast across interior Canada. They winter broadly along the Pacific Coast and in the southeastern US. They winter south to northern Mexico. They prefer tidal creeks and small wooded ponds in winter. They are fast fliers. Pairs form during the winter and they may form a single species roost on water in groups of up to 200 birds.
  BREEDING: Monogamous. One brood. Females build a nest in a tree cavity near water and line it with grass and leaves and down. Hooded Mergansers may also use nest boxes. The female lays 10-12 (7-13) eggs which are usually incubated for 26-41 (usually ~33) days. Development is precocial. Chicks may remain in the nest for a day or so before they climb to the cavity opening and jump to the ground. Young are tended by the female for several weeks. They survive if abandoned early .They can fly after 71 days.
   Females may lay in other's nests. They may share incubation with Wood Ducks or goldeneyes. Males desert females early in incubation. Separate broods do not combine as in other mergansers.
  DIET: Small fish, crustaceans, aquatic insects, some tadpoles and a few mollusks and some plant material. Young eat mostly insects at first. They forage by diving and swimming underwater using their feet for propulsion. They find their food by sight (they see well underwater).
  VOICE: The female gives a soft croak, sometimes a "ca ca ca ca ca..." in flight.
  NOTES:
   Checklists -
      Seabrook. Kiawah - uncommon spring, common fall and winter.
      Coastal - common (local) winter visitor. Hilton Head - common winter visitor.
         Cape Romain
- common year-round except summer (absent then). Huntington Beach - common October - March; uncommon April.
      Caw Caw - uncommon/absent/uncommon/common. ACE - uncommon/absent/occasional/uncommon.
   CBC: ACE 778, 220, 411, 83, 272, 744, 268, 439; Charleston 318, 433, 638, 262, 148, 113, 212, 337;
            St. Helena/Fripp x, x, x, x, x, x, 399, 531; Hilton Head 0, 1130, 888, 815, 518, 426, 8856, 1083;
               Sun City/Okatie 276, 576, 293, 312, 120, 281, 165, 442;
            McClellanville 252, 73, 84, 70, nc, 496, 174, 517; Winyah Bay x, x, 256, 126, 455, 424, 1479, 1057;
               Litchfield/Pawley's 120, 141, 92, 148, 168, 214, 171, 169.
   SCBBA: Confirmed breeding in Colleton and Jasper Counties. If breeding nearby, Caw Caw could be a likely area. All records south of the fall line.
   P&G: Common winter visitor, rare breeder. 10 reports of nesting. Maximum 289, McClellanville, 23 December 1984.
   M&P: 1937 report of breeding considered valid. Added nesting records from Savannah River NWR.
   Avendex: 12 records, March - August, December.
   Potter: A locally fairly common winter resident found in both fresh and brackish waters along the coast. They breed occasionally at sites scattered throughout the Carolinas.
   The Hooded Merganser is the most common duck in winter on our lakes and tidal creeks. They feed in small flocks (often 5-12 or so) which contain paired individuals (and may be followed by our small herons feeding along the bank).
    ●  A companion in winter - common on all our lakes and estuaries. Not found on the open ocean. Almost always in social groups - usually with more females than males.
       
    Banner - Hooded Merganser, Jenkins Point lagoon
 
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