Ducks on the Fox

by Carl Strang

A couple weeks ago I visited the Fox River to see what the waterfowl were up to. I expect to find goldeneyes there in winter as long as there is open water, and I was not disappointed.

I was pleased by the large number of common goldeneyes I saw on the Fox River.

They were very shy, and I was chagrined that my careful approach flushed them.

When I backed off, the flying goldeneye ducks quickly settled back down onto the river.

Goldeneyes are mollusk specialists, and can get food readily as long as there is open water. I was pleasantly surprised to find a few hooded mergansers sharing the river with them.

Two male hooded mergansers, starting to show some nervousness despite my distance from them.

They, too, were quick to take flight.

A female leads two males into the air.

Like the goldeneyes they didn’t stay in the air for long.

On the water or in the air, these are among our most beautiful waterfowl.

Of the three merganser duck species we typically see in our area, the hooded is the one that sometimes nests in northeast Illinois. They seem to have the broadest diet, being less focused on fish than are the red-breasted and common mergansers. They will chow down on tadpoles and aquatic insects, as well.


1 Comment

  1. Marie said,

    February 9, 2011 at 9:50 pm

    Lovely duck photos

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