Saturday, August 9, 2008

Red-breasted Mergansers, Grand Marais

I'm just back from several days on the North Shore of Lake Superior -- my honeymoon, in fact. I'll have fodder for quite a few blog posts over the coming days and even weeks, but I thought I'd start off with one of the treats of the trip: a family of Red-breasted Mergansers in the Grand Marais harbor.

The mother and six mid-sized ducklings were dabbling near a dock. The youngsters' long, slender bills (a diagnostic characteristic of mergansers) were well developed, but they had their heads in the water much of the time, making it difficult to spend much time admiring those bills. They were also fairly independent, so that all six were rarely right by their mother, though if they ventured very far away they were quick to return to make sure of her before venturing off again. This gave rise to the mental image of a tethering rubber band that would only stretch so far before pulling the little ones back to mother.

Here is a close-up of the pretty mother. Her wispy crest is barely evident.

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