Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Sawbills

This juvenile Common Merganser, its bill lit up in the afternoon sun, was part of a mixed group of juveniles and adults foraging in a small local stream several months ago. Both Common and Red-breasted mergansers use their serrated "saw bill" to catch fish and crustaceans.


Common Mergansers are are found on open inland waters throughout the year. In contrast Red-breasted Mergansers prefer quiet salt-water bays. They usually stick to the coasts during migration from their breeding grounds in the northern boreal forest and tundra. Infrequently do they appear on inland lakes and rivers.



This pair ventured inland. I found them on a quiet backwater of the CT River. In basic winter plumage the male and female look very much alike, except for the male being perhaps a bit darker. The two photos below, taken in Gloucester Harbor in MA, show them in breeding plumage.






Thanks for stopping by. Please leave a comment.

17 comments:

  1. Great essay and great shots. Of course, we have mergansers so maybe they're from here. So take care of them. Boom & gary.

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  2. Great post on the differences between the Common and Red-breasted Mergansers Hilde! You really caught that sawtooth effect beautifully in the first shot. It always amazes me the difference in the breeding and basic plumages of ducks.

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  3. Beautiful birds.
    We've had a few of their relatives here this winter; the Goosander.

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  4. If I'm very luck we'll see a Marganser or two for a very short time in the spring when the Pine River is still locked up with ice except for small thaw pools that the migrators use for their stopovers.
    Your study of these birds is a visual and educational delight!

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  5. Great photos - especially the one showing the detail of the bill. Interesting post about the differences between the Mergansers.

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  6. Hilke
    Great post..very cool to see the bill lit up like that!

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  7. Lovely images and great info....keep them coming.

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  8. thanks for a great post. I had no idea they had a bill like that. To be able to catch it too. Great! :)

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  9. I have learned alot from this post!

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  10. I noticed a merganser a couple of months ago for the first time on our inland river. Didn't know about the sawbill- thanks!

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  11. those red eyes of the red-breasted Merganser are just stunning!

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  12. Lovely shots of the RBM .. I only ever see them at the coast but rarely close enough for photos.

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  13. Very nice. All three merganser sp. seem to handle winter in stride, even a few hoodies to be found

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  14. Photo 2 and 3 are awesome! We get the common and hoodies in the CT River near my area but usually have to travel to the shore to see the RB Mergansers.

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  15. Hilke,
    Loved the sawbill shots. I haven't seen these around Michigan or I haven't been looking hard enough. Hanging out with grandma who says hi and happy holidays!
    I'll keep an eye out for rbm birds around here.
    Nick

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  16. Wow I had no idea about their serrated bills! I'll keep my fingers to myself around these guys.

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  17. Thank you all for your comments!

    Nick, I am delighted that you found my blog. Merry Christmas to you, to Grandma, and your family! Hope your dad gets better soon.

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