08.28.16: Merganser

Male Hooded Merganser on fall morning, Sharon Woods Metro Park, Westerville, Ohio. 


Technical information

Nov. 21, 2012,
10:18 a.m.

40°6'45” N,
82°57'43" W
(Show in Google Maps)

Canon EOS 7D

Canon EF 600mm f/4L, Canon 1.4x teleconverter (840mm) 


1/500th second


Photographing waterfowl on local lakes is rather boring for much of the year. About all I see are Canada geese and mallards and, with the number of Canada geese and mallard photos I have, I lose interest in adding more.

But spring and fall changes everything. That’s when the variety of waterfowl increases with migration season and I tend to hang around lakes a bit more.

This photo of a male Hooded Merganser was captured on a lake in a local park during the fall migration south. The gold color of the water was caused by the reflection of fall leaves on trees along the edge of the lake.

Male Hooded Mergansers are eye-catching, thanks to the white, black-trimmed collapsible crest that makes the head look oversized when it is deployed behind the circular, golden eye. The male duck’s body has black-and-white patterns around chestnut flanks. (Females are gray and brown, with cinnamon tones on the head.)

But photographing Hooded Mergansers on a lake can be a challenge. The ducks feed by diving under the water in search of food, often staying under for a surprisingly long time before popping back to the surface in a different area of the lake. They find their prey underwater by sight, according the info on my favorite bird site, All About Birds. The site says Hooded Mergansers "can actually change the refractive properties of their eyes to improve their underwater vision. In addition, they have an extra eyelid, called an ‘activating membrane,' which is transparent and helps protect the eye during swimming, like a pair of goggles."

Each week I will post a photo from my collection with an explanation of how I got the shot. Previous photos of the week are in the archives.