An online resource based on the award-winning nature guide

Hooded Merganser Ducklings on the Water

6-17 hooded mergansers IMG_4318Hooded Merganser ducklings typically leap from their cavity nests in trees within twenty-four hours of hatching. Long claws on their feet aid them in climbing up to the opening of the cavity in order to join their mother who is calling from below. The ducklings feed themselves (aquatic insects and invertebrates) from day one, and are capable of shallow dives as soon as they leave their nest. The mother (who has been their sole caretaker since she started incubating the eggs) often moves her brood downstream to larger lakes, rivers and bays from smaller streams and ponds near the nest site. Eventually she leaves her young, anywhere from a month or two after they hatch, often before they can fly.

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9 responses

  1. I love your posts but I wondered if you could give an idea of the location of your posts. Thank you Frances

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    June 17, 2015 at 8:32 am

    • Hi Frances, Unless otherwise stated, 99% of my photos are from central Vermont and across the Connecticut River in central New Hampshire. Probably 75% are out my door, in Hartland, Vermont!

      June 17, 2015 at 8:59 am

      • So do hooded mergansers breed in the Upper Valley? And do they use boxes at all?

        June 17, 2015 at 4:16 pm

  2. There’s an interesting pattern with birds: the ones that don’t need to fly are active from day one, but the ones that depend on flying must grow to almost adult size before leaving the nest. Aerodynamics is so difficult only an adult body can manage.

    June 17, 2015 at 4:22 pm

    • To your question about hooded mergansers breeding in the Upper Valley and using boxes…yes, and yes! Interesting comment you made on bird size/flight!

      June 17, 2015 at 4:46 pm

  3. Amazing that she leaves them before they can fly – no helicopter parenting here! 😉

    June 17, 2015 at 8:58 pm

  4. It’s impressive that they can feed themselves at 1 day.

    June 17, 2015 at 10:11 pm

  5. Penny March

    Mergansers usually lay a lot of eggs-at least 6, usually 10 to 12. How is the hatch synchronized so she can call them down at the same time? Doesn’t start brooding until after the last egg? It evidently takes about a month to hatch them. The male evidently leaves the area and doesn’t feed her, so she has to leave the nest to eat-not like ospreys.

    June 18, 2015 at 9:29 am

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