by Marilyn and Keith Davis

"Ow-Wow, Ow-Wow, Ow-Wow"

Hooded Merganser

hooded merganser
       Just when you think you’ve seen the most beautiful bird in the world, in flies the Hooded Merganser. Did you know that every year this spectacular merganser comes to the St. George Winter Bird Festival? A majority of the mergansers occur in the Mississippi Flyway, but more and more are learning about our many golf course ponds and reservoirs in southern Utah.

       The Hooded Merganser has a slender elongated serrated bill tipped with a hooked nail. The bills are used for capturing and controlling slippery fish. Hooded Mergansers locate their prey visually, swimming with faces submerged, surveying the water beneath. Once prey is observed, it is actively pursued underwater. They are extremely agile swimmers and divers, but are clumsy on land because their legs are set well back on their bodies. Both sexes have a bushy erectile crest of head feathers that can be expanded or contracted. It’s the male’s hood of white and black which is so distinctive, along with the deep, deep voice calling ‘Ow-Wow, Ow-Wow, Ow-Wow’.

       Take your own trip, or go with one of our bird specialists who will show you the way, at the upcoming Winter Bird Festival. A camera is a must, for you can be sure you will want to keep the memory in your photo album. Mergansers have been seen at Gunlock and Quail Creek Reservoirs. They have been at Grandpa’s Pond, Springs Park Pond, Sandberg Pond, Staheli Pond, Main Street Pond, Ledges Pond, Snow Canyon Dr. Pond plus several other places. Enjoy the winter months with a sparkle of color.

       Marilyn Davis is the artist this week. If you have questions about birds, Red Cliffs Audubon activities, or the St. George Winter Bird Festival, call 435 673-0996.

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