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Common Mergansers Taking Flight

common mergansers pattering 425Most ducks can take off nearly vertically from either water or land. However, when taking off from a body of water, unless alarmed, Common Mergansers usually patter along the surface for several yards before taking flight. One would imagine that their flight might not be any more graceful than their take-offs, but the opposite is said to be true of females looking for potential nesting sites. They have been observed maneuvering easily among tree branches seeking a suitable tree cavity in which to lay and incubate their eggs, and once they have found a nest site, they appear to enter and leave their nest holes with ease.

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6 responses

  1. Kathie Fiveash

    I have read that dabbling ducks in general can take off almost vertically from the water (I think because of longer wings with larger area?) while most diving ducks, with their more streamlined wings, need some runway for take-off. I think there are exceptions – like the harlequin duck – but maybe this is a useful generalization?

    April 9, 2014 at 11:46 am

    • Hi Kathie,
      Yes, that’s my understanding, too. I thought it might be too lengthy to go into dabblers and divers, so didn’t mention that, but sometime I will! Thanks.

      April 9, 2014 at 7:15 pm

  2. Beautiful photograph and interesting info. Thank you.

    April 9, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    • Walter Korzec

      I believe that Kathy Fiveash’s above comments are generally correct. I also believe that there may be more diving ducks than ” puddlers”. Puddlers generally can jump up and fly without a runway. Malards, black ducks and pintails are some examples of puddlers.
      Thank you for your beautiful and informative posts.

      April 9, 2014 at 6:51 pm

  3. Penny March

    Does a 6 to 1 ratio male to female have a significance in this photo?

    April 9, 2014 at 11:33 pm

  4. Tree cavities? I always wondered where they nested. There is usually at least one pair on our river. I love seeing the little brown puffball hatchlings bobbing down the currents. So cute!

    April 11, 2014 at 4:30 pm

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