Hooded Merganser Love (or is it Lust) Is In The Air

Official spring, and the breeding season for most songbirds, is still a few weeks away, but the ducks at Clyde Shepherd Nature Preserve are already romancing. The males are in their finest plumage and are trying out their mating dance.

The Suitors
The Suitress

For ducks, it’s girl’s choice for a partner. She gets to pick the drake that makes the best impression.

This timing means, typically, that the female can start laying her ~12 egg clutch in mid-March, the eggs incubate for about a month, and if everything goes well the ducklings hatch in mid-April. And, enjoying a couple of months of spring weather to grow and learn how to fly.

This early start is not without its risks. There is still the daily chores of hunting and staying out of harms way. Predators know this cycle too. Red-shouldered Hawks will be setting up stations in the coming days with the understanding that 12 cute little ducklings will soon be following Mom around. Nature is tough.

All shot with the Olympus OMD EM1x & Olympus 150-400mm f/4.5 TC1.25x IS PRO Mobility with this combination made it possible for me to move ahead of the mergansers and position myself in natural cover at a distance to get the shots with the lighting, but not spook the skittish mergansers.

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