Friday’s Feathered Friends- Red-breasted Merganser Male

Copyright ©2021 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Late in January, I heard there was a Red-necked Grebe in Lake Tahoe and it’s a bird I’ve never seen so wanting to get out of the house between storms He-Man and I drove over there for a walk-about and see what we could see. No grebe anywhere, but I did see a small group of Common Mergansers, and one that didn’t look quite like the others, but looked like a Merganser. I made some images and when I got home uploaded the images and discovered to my delight the one in the group that was a little different was a Red-breasted Merganser Male. A new bird for me, and Lifer number one for 2021!

They weren’t doing much of anything when I saw the group. I think it was a bit early and they were still waking up. 😀

Male Red-breasted Merganser Lake Tahoe 2021

Fun facts about them gleaned from my favorite source

  • The Red-breasted Merganser breeds farther north and winters farther south than the other American mergansers.
  • Red-breasted Mergansers don’t acquire breeding plumage until they are 2 years old.
  • Red-breasted Mergansers need to eat 15 to 20 fish per day, which researchers suggest means they need to dive underwater 250–300 times per day or forage for 4–5 hours to meet their energy needs.
  • The oldest recorded Red-breasted Merganser was a female, and at least 9 years, 6 months old when she was shot in Alaska, the same state where she had been banded.

That’s a lot of diving and foraging isn’t it!

I hope you all a lovely week-end!

Panasonic Lumix FZ200| PS CC 22.3.0

more to come…

50 thoughts on “Friday’s Feathered Friends- Red-breasted Merganser Male

  1. Congrats! I think I’ve seen them this year. My yearly list run together because we bird the last day of the year. I remember ever seeing a male in breeding colors a d for good reason. 😊

  2. Interesting how you hear about birds in a specific area and you head out to try to see them, Deborah. What are the chances? I do notice birds on my walk more since I met you. Great capture the “Male Red-breasted Merganser” Hungry birds!🙂

    1. There’s a site called that I follow and post on. If you sign up for alerts you get notified of bird hotspots and sightings. It’s pretty cool.

      Thank you so much, Erica! I’m so glad you’re noticing more birds! That’s fantastic! xx 💕😀

    1. Thank you so much, Judy! Now that I know what he looks like and where they hang out I hope to see them again. Maybe you will too as it hangs out along the US coastlines in the non breeding season.

  3. I think that many fish calls for DoorDash or something similar at least for a change of pace. 🙂 Nice catch, Deborah, so to speak. I think Mergansers are very interesting-looking.


  4. It is a wonderful surprise when you go out looking for a lifer and come back with another and you didn’t know you had actually seen it, even if from a distance Deborah. I have had several instances where I have gone after very rare birds and was not till I got home and enlarged the images I found I had seen the lifer I was seeking. It is delightful to find an unexpected lifer species also, this all makes birding all the more exciting.

    1. It does even years later after seeing and photographing a bird I’d never seen before, but life goes on and I forgot to go back and ID the bird. Back in 2009 I think it was I was birding in Mexico and I saw a bird that was new to me, but didn’t get it ID’d until a month ago when I saw another birder post a picture of the same bird. A light went off in my head and I went back to the files in my archive and sure enough that’s the bird I had seen way back then! Still as exciting as the day I saw it…almost. 😂

      Thank you so much for the comment, Ashley! I hope you have a lovely week-end.

  5. I rather like the slightly more unkempt look of the RB Merg compered to the suave looking Goosander (oops sorry Common Merganser). Glad to hear it’s a ‘lifer’.

  6. 250–300 dives a day? That’s amazing. And we complain about having to wait in line for groceries.

    I’m glad you spotted a new bird, Deborah. I love the images, especially that last one. He looks like he’s riding out a small storm.

    I hope you have a great weekend.

  7. I absolutely love it when I come upon mergansers, so I can imagine what a great joy it was to spot this red-breasted male, Deborah. They are often difficult to photograph because as soon as we get close to the water, they start heading in the opposite direction. It’s super that you could capture him so beautifully.

    1. Thank you so much, Jet! It was surprising that there weren’t too bothered by my presence. I was very happy about that! They’re cool looking birds the Mergansers. I’m thrilled to have seen this one finally.

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