Friday, January 17, 2020


Identifying male mergansers, like Red-breasted above taken at Woodard Bay near Olympia on 9 January 2020 and Common, found on Capitol Lake on13 January 2020, is not difficult. (The females can be tricky.) Their long, serrated bills make mergansers among the most specialized ducks. Ducks are notorious for their propensity to hybridize with other ducks. Mergansers apparently hybridize less frequently than do other ducks. My graduate professsor, George Lowery, was fond of commenting that, given the opportunity, Mallards will mate with fence posts—and, in fact, hybrid Mallard x Merganser have been reported (Pearce et al. 2015).

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