At this time of year, the red-breasted merganser visits the pond near my home. Birds of this type are easy to miss, because they are smaller and shyer than wood ducks and mallards. They are sensitive to noises and movement, and tend to keep to the middle of the pond.
According to blogger Rondeau Ric, the red-breasted merganser needs to eat 15 to 20 fish a day. It dives as many as 300 times daily, looking for food. The edges of its beak are serrated to grip its prey, giving the merganser its scientific name (Mergus serratus) as well as its nickname: the sawbill.
The red-breasted merganser doesn’t hang around Chicago long. It likes to live farther north in the warm months of the year. It winters farther south than most other ducks, too.
I took this photograph of a mature male merganser back in 2013.
For more on the merganser and other similar species, check out Cornell Ornithology’s website All About Birds.