Hooded Mergansers

Although birding is a year-round activity here in the Pacific Northwest, overwintering sea birds are a special delight in winter. One of my favorites at Port Orchard, at least at this time of year, is the Hooded Merganser. At first I was simply attracted by their beautiful plumage, particularly that of the male. After photographing them for a while, though, I began to pay closer attention to their behavior.

As I was photographing this male Hooded Merganser floating by

HMG1

another male approached from the opposite direction,

HMG2

and both tilted their beak up, one higher than the other, purposely ignoring the other

HMG3

until they were quite close and lowered their bills.

HMG4

When a female entered the scene, it became obvious that this must have been some kind of mating significance.

Notice, though, how the female checks out the new male as she swims to join the male she had been swimming with earlier.

HMG5

before rejoining the male.

HMG6

Do you think that “Sticking your nose up in the air” has a universal meaning, one we share even with our bird friends?

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