Wildlife - Water Birds (Kids)

Water Birds

Hooded Merganser

Hooded Merganser, Photo by John White, Maryland Department of Natural Resources

Hooded Merganser - One of the best places to find Hooded Mergansers in Maryland is at WSSC’s Brighton Dam during the winter months.   Hooded Mergansers nest in tree cavities and are frequently found with Wood Ducks.

Male Common Merganser

Male Common Merganser, Photo from US Fish and Wildlife Service

Common Merganser - This large diving duck has a long thin bill and nests in tree cavities. They usually eat fish and are found along large lakes, such as Triadelphia and Rocky Gorge. They don’t feed their young, so their hatchings dive into the water when they are a day old to find their own food.

Double Crested Cormorant

Double-crested Cormorant, Photo by Will Elder, National Park Service

Double-crested Cormorant - The Double-crested Cormorant swims and dives in rivers, lakes and along the coastline. Even though it needs to dive into water to hunt fish, the cormorant’s feathers are not waterproof .  This means that the cormorant must spend time drying them out after spending time in the water-which helps birders find them.

Male and female lesser scaup

Male and Female Lesser Scaup, Photo from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Lesser Scaup - This bird is one of the most abundant water fowl in North America. It is known to play dead (stay still with head extended, eyes open, and wings held close to body) when grasped by a red fox in order to figure out an escape route.

bufflehead ducks

Bufflehead Ducks, Photo from Ohio Department of Natural Resources

Bufflehead Ducks - These the smallest diving ducks in North America.  They eat insects, crustaceans, and mollusks, as well as some seeds. They like to live in tree cavities created by Northern Flickers and Pileated Woodpeckers.  Bufflehead ducks don’t tend to flock in large numbers. Rather, they will swim and eat in small groups with one duck acting as a sentry.

american black duck

American Black Duck, Photo from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Black Duck - This popular duck declined significantly in mid 20th century. Once, hunting was restricted in 1983, the populations began to make a comeback.  The black duck is commonly mistaken for a hen (female) mallard, although the American Black Duck’s plumage is darker.   In freshwater (such as Triadelphia and Rocky Gorge reservoirs), black ducks stay in shallow water to feed on plant material, insects and small aquatic animals.

green winged teal

Green winged Teal, photo from US Fish and Wildlife Service

Green winged Teal - This bird is one of the more brightly pattern ducks on Rocky Gorge and Triadelphia. They prefer shallow ponds and marshes with lots of emergent vegetation, and thus are more likely to bee seen the coves, such as Scott’s Cove and Supplee.

male wood duck

Male Wood Duck, Photo from Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Wood Duck - The Wood Duck is the only North American duck that normally hatches two broods per year. It is one of the few ducks that nest in trees, and their nests are usually found in trees near water.

ruddy duck

Ruddy Duck, Photo from Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife

Ruddy Duck-Ruddy - Ducks like large, deep lakes and rivers, which is why we see them at Rocky Gorge and Triadelphia. When launching into flight, these ducks like to paddle along the water before becoming airborne. They catch fish to eat by diving.





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