Red Breasted Merganser


An infrequent sighting on our local pond was this Red Breasted Merganser. When we arrived he was off in the distance head tucked and floating as he snoozed on a chilly morning. After watching him, as well as the hoodies and shovelers on the pond for an hour or so, he woke up swam around a bit, dove for some crawfish and flew away. Luckily he swam our way and we were able get a good look at a good looking bird and snap a few photos.

32 thoughts on “Red Breasted Merganser

    1. Hi and thanks, he did have that cross look as he swam around the pond checking out the other ducks and geese. Maybe he was uptight since he was the only red-breasted merganser on the pond that day…a stranger so to speak. Hope your day is going well and wishing you a great week.

  1. What a beautiful bird and photo! Have never seen such a bird here either – it’s really amazing how many different species we have – in a similar climate (I guess) but “just” on a different continent.
    Do you have any idea why those birds have red eyes? I searched for an explanation, because normally red eyes are a sign for albinism I think, but this can’t be the case here, as there’s no other lack of pigments – on the contrary. Fascinating.

    1. HI Suzan, we have also looked into the why many birds and some ducks have red eyes and have not gotten a consistent answer. One article suggested it helped diving ducks like these guys to see underwater but other sources suggest it is mainly for looks and attracting a mate. Even in a world were we know so much ( or at least think we do) mysteries seem to remain.

      He was quite a good looker and I hope he flew off and found a pond full of other red breasted mergansers.

      Hope your day is good and your week is great.

      1. Hmm.. interesting. When it helps them to see better underwater, I wonder if other ducks with “normal” eyes see less good… I’d go rather for the attracting-a-mate-theory. There are so many seemingly (for us) crazy looks and actions of animals (and humans;)) to attract the other gender, I wouldn’t be surprised if those red eyes would be a part of this. Yep, he definitely deserves a pond full of other ducks of his kind.
        And maybe it’s better when some mysteries of life still remain. Who knows what mankind would do if they really would know everything. Not sure if I want to know and/or experience this.

        Thanks, so far, so good. The same to you, enjoy life. 🙂

        1. Right now I would conclude the red eyes evolved for attractive purposes.

          IF we knew everything there would be nothing left to do the play would come to an end so as you said let’s just keep enjoying life.

    1. Thanks, he is indeed a good looking guy and it is remarkable the variations in pattern, color and form of all the feathers both on a single duck and between species. Hope your day is join great and have a wonderful week.

  2. I always enjoy seeing a herringbone pattern on a duck. You got it. What’s more, your picture seems to show red feathers on the underside of his rear feathers. They’re only visible in the reflection. Is that a trick of light or does he really have red under there?

    1. Hi and thanks, the red on the underside is actually this guys feet/legs in the water. The amount of pattern and color in one duck is quite a sight for sure and so far this winter this is the only red-breated merganser we have seen around here.

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