Male and female Hooded Mergansers look vastly different from each other. The adult female has a greyish-brown body and a light reddish-brown crest that extends from the back of the head.
The mature male’s head, neck, and breast are mainly black with white markings. The large white patches on the crest are very conspicuous when he raises his crest during courtship. His lower flanks are a rich reddish-brown or chestnut color.
Hooded Mergansers have serrated bills that improve their fishing skills. They mainly feed on small fish, crayfish, and aquatic insects. They also eat tadpoles, a few mollusks, and small amounts of plant material.
The American Dipper is an aquatic songbird that is found in the mountainous regions of Central America and western North America from Panama to Alaska. It is grayish brown, chunky, and smaller than a robin. It has long legs, a short bill, and a small tail. The feathered eyelids are white and flash white when blinking. Its way of foraging for food in whitewater streams makes it unique and entertaining to watch. While wading and swimming in turbulent streams among rocks, it dives beneath the water head-first to forage for insects, insect larvae, small fish, or fish eggs.
April 1 and May 6. Two options: 8–10am or 7:30–10am (choose a 2-hour or a 2.5-hour walk.) Both walks are free but you must RSVP at www.blufflake.org/birdwatching. All are welcome. Bring your own binoculars, or borrow a pair from your guide. 11255 MLK Blvd. Search FrontPorchNE.com for “Bird Sightings” to see all the past bird stories and photos from George Ho.