Photo: Bob Lane
Bob Lane sent along some wonderful photos of a hen Common Merganser attending her large brood of chicks. Looks eleven of the little fuzzballs in all. The little ones stay closely huddled with the hen at this point, even hopping aboard her back for rides when possible. He observed the brood at Conneaut, Ohio, last Tuesday, June 2. They most likely nested along Conneaut Creek, where John Pogacnik and others have reported breeding Common Mergansers for a number of years.
This cavity-nesting duck nests along high quality streams buffered by healthy riparian forests. There is no question that this species is on the rise as a nester in Ohio, and adjacent states. Recovery of areas that were once largely denuded of forests is the likely reason for the duck's increase - they are probably recolonizing former breeding areas. West Virginia's breeding Common Merganser population has skyrocketed - I wrote about there RIGHT HERE - and Pennsylvania's population has also spiked enormously.
About a decade ago, Jim Dolan, along with Dan Justice, began to place nest boxes along Little Beaver Creek in Columbiana County. Their efforts quickly bore fruit, and boosted the nascent merganser population along that beautiful stream. More on that work HERE. Currently Common Mergansers are nesting along a half-dozen or so streams in eastern and northeastern Ohio, and not coincidentally these waterways rank high among our healthiest aquatic ecosystems. Robust riparian forests that protect the water quality of these streams is a common denominator.
Common Mergansers are a highly visible, charismatic indicator of healthy forests and waterways.
Photo: Bob Lane