The red-breasted merganser winters further south (along the coasts and close to the Gulf of Mexico) than the other mergansers we see in this area, which helps explain why they would be passing through our area now. The common mergansers (which winter as close as Wisconsin and southern Iowa) started showing up here in late winter, and we started seeing hooded mergansers (which winter throughout the Gulf states and southeast) more than a month ago.
This bird is distinctive for the white wing-patches and (like other mergansers) its very long, thin bill.
We also saw a spotted sandpiper and a lesser yellowlegs today, and a couple of greater yellowlegs northwest of Northfield on Saturday, so shorebird season is under way. To round out the evening's sightings: a great blue heron flew majestically by; we saw a couple of yellow-rumped warblers; red-winged blackbirds and robins seemed to be everywhere; and blue-winged teals and coots were easy to see on the ponds, as was