Wednesday, May 2, 2018

#0014 "Hooded Merganser"

This was my 14th step along my artistic journey from the summer of 72... Every painting is an opportunity to learn. I would have painted this after my first year in Phusics at Queens using an aluminum easle on the dining room table. I still have and use that easel.
Hooded mergansers are perky little birds with a very extravagant crest. They breed in forested wetlands throughout the eastern half of North America and the Pacific Northwest. They will also use nest boxes like wood ducks. The ducklings leave the nest with a bold leap of faith to the forest floor when they only one day old. Sometimes the nesting cavity is 50 feet above the ground so it is quite a leap. The hen checks the area around the nest and calls to the nestlings from ground level to encourage them to make the leap.

Mergansers dive for fish, crayfish, and other food, seizing it in their thin, serrated bills. Mergansers hunt by sight and actually change the refractive properties of their eyes to improve their underwater vision. They also have an extra transparent eyelid to protect the eye like a pair of simming goggles.

Hooded Mergansers often lay their eggs in other females' nests. This is called "brood parasitism" and is similar to the practice of Brown-headed Cowbirds, except that the ducks only lay eggs in nests of their own species and sometimes wood ducks. Female Hooded Mergansers can lay a dozen eggs in a clutch but nests have been found with up to 44 eggs in them.

The oldest recorded Hooded Merganser was a male and at least 14 years, 6 months old when he was shot in Mississippi in 2009. He had been banded in Minnesota in 1995.
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#2223 "Covey of Cattle"

These cattle belong to the Covey Family which has farmed the area since 1905 or so. Most people think of a covey as a flock of birds but ...