The Hooded Merganser Duck is a true treasure of Cherry Hills Village. The state’s very first verified and documented breeding site of the species was found at Quincy Farm. The wetlands, pond and large trees on the property make it an ideal place for these ducks to thrive.
The worldwide population of the Hooded Merganser has declined significantly in recent years, due to a loss of their nesting habitats (mature trees near water.) This makes having them in our own backyard that much more special.
With their thin bill and fan-shaped crest – these ducks are quite a treat to see. They’re smaller than other ducks, about the size of a crow. Adult males have a sharp black-and-white pattern above with a striking white crest. Females and young males are grey and brown, with beautiful chestnut-toned crests.
Here are a few things you might catch our Hooded Mergansers doing at Quincy Farm:
- Diving in the pond to catch small fish and aquatic insects
- Courting females by expanding their white crests and making very low mating calls (Take a look at the mating rituals here!)
- Flying in their distinctive way, with shallow and rapid wingbeats
- Nesting in tree cavities, especially in the larger mature trees near the pond
Fun Hooded Merganser Facts:
- Females often lay their eggs in other females’ nests. This is called “brood parasitism.”
- Typically they’ll lay around 13 eggs in a clutch, but nests have been found with up to 44 eggs (possibly due to this shared nesting.)
- They find their prey underwater by sight – changing the refractive properties of their eyes to see better underwater.
- They also have an extra eyelid, called a “nictitating membrane.” It’s transparent and protects their eyes like a pair of goggles.
- Ducklings leave their nest cavity within 24 hours of hatching! The mother will first check the area, then call to her brood. The ducklings then flutter from the nest – which may be as high as 50 feet from the ground.