Birdwatchers call them “hoodies.” I saw this pair and lots more of them at the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge in Oceanville, New Jersey, on the day after Thanksgiving. The little ducks are about 20 inches long, have a wingspan of about two feet, and weigh between one and two pounds.
They are found throughout the eastern half of the United States and in the Pacific northwest year round, and in various parts of North America for winter and breeding.
Hoodies are diving ducks, likely to disappear while you are watching them and reappear at a distance in any direction. Underwater they catch fish, crustaceans, and insects, or pick up mollusks and vegetation.
A pair of hooded mergansers, Lophodytes cucullatus, in the foreground. The female on the left has a cinnamon colored crest. The male’s white hood is expandable.
Running on the water for takeoff.