The lake is a fascinating place that provides a habitat for a wide range of bird species. Each bird species has unique behaviours and characteristics that make them stand out from one another. In this blog, we will explore the behaviour and characteristics of Ring-billed gulls, Mallard ducks, Common Merganser, Greater Scaup, American Coot, Double Crested Cormorant, and American White Pelican.
Ring-billed gulls are a common sight in North America, particularly near lakes and other bodies of water. These medium-sized gulls have a white head and underbelly, with gray wings and back feathers. The distinguishing feature of the ring-billed gull is, as the name suggests, a black band around its yellow beak. This band makes it easy to identify among other gull species.
Ring-billed gulls are opportunistic feeders and are not particularly picky when it comes to their diet. They feed on fish, insects, crustaceans, and even garbage. These gulls are also known for their scavenging behaviour, often congregating in large groups around waste sites or fishing piers. Despite their reputation as “beach scavengers,” ring-billed gulls also have interesting social behavior. They are known to be monogamous and mate for life, with both parents sharing in the duties of raising their young. In the winter months, they form flocks of thousands, roosting on ice and near shorelines.
Mallard ducks are among the most recognizable waterfowl in North America. The males, known as drakes, have striking green heads with a white collar, a brown chest, and a gray body. Females, known as hens, are brown with orange bills and a distinctive blue patch on their wings. They are social creatures, often found in groups on the water, on the shore, or even in urban areas like parks and golf courses. They can also be seen migrating in large flocks, with males performing aerial displays to attract females.
Mallard ducks are known for their adaptability and can be found in a wide range of habitats, including freshwater ponds, rivers, and even saltwater bays. They are omnivores and feed on a variety of plant and animal matter, including seeds, insects, and small fish. During breeding season, males will compete for the attention of females by performing courtship displays, which can include head bobbing, tail wagging, and vocalizations. Mallards are also known for their distinctive quacking call, which is often used in movies and TV shows to represent the sound of a duck.
The common merganser is a large, fish-eating duck that is common in lakes and rivers throughout North America. They have a distinctive appearance, with a long, thin bill and a sleek, streamlined body that is perfect for diving underwater to catch fish. Males have a striking black and white plumage with a green head, while females have a more muted brown and gray coloring. They are also known for their impressive courtship displays, where males will show off their elegant swimming skills and puff up their feathers to impress potential mates.
In addition to their impressive physical characteristics, the common merganser also has interesting social behaviors. They are known to form monogamous pairs during breeding season, but will often gather in large groups outside of breeding season. They are also cooperative breeders, with females sometimes laying their eggs in another female’s nest, and both females helping to raise the ducklings. Common mergansers have also been observed engaging in “synchronized diving,” where a group of ducks will dive underwater at the same time, likely to improve their chances of catching fish.
The greater scaup, also known as the “bluebill,” is a diving duck that is common in freshwater lakes and rivers throughout North America. They have a distinctive black and white plumage with a greenish iridescence on the head of the male. Their bill is blue-grey with a black tip, which gives them their common name. Greater scaup are known for their deep, husky, and somewhat plaintive calls that can be heard from a distance. They are migratory birds that breed in the northern parts of North America and winter in the southern regions.
Greater scaup are known for their diving abilities. They can dive up to 10-20 feet deep in search of food, which mainly consists of small invertebrates and plant matter. They also use their wings to help them swim underwater, which is a unique feature among diving ducks. During the breeding season, males perform elaborate courtship displays, including head-bobbing, flapping of wings, and chasing females. Greater scaup are also known for forming large flocks, particularly during migration and wintering periods.
The American Coot is a small waterbird that is known for its distinctive appearance and interesting behaviour. This bird has dark plumage, a white bill, and a bright red eye, which makes it easy to spot in the water. Its legs are long and slender, which allows it to move gracefully through the water. The American Coot is also known for its unique vocalizations, which sound like a cross between a grunt and a clucking sound.
The American Coot is a social bird that is often found in large groups. It is a very active bird that spends most of its time swimming, diving, and foraging for food. The American Coot is an omnivore and will eat a variety of foods, including aquatic plants, insects, and small fish. During the breeding season, the American Coot is known for its aggressive behavior towards other birds, especially those that come too close to its nest.
The Double-crested Cormorant is a common waterbird species found throughout North America. These birds are large, black waterbirds that are often seen perched on rocks or floating in the water. They have a long, hooked bill that is perfect for catching fish, which is their primary diet. They are excellent divers and can swim to depths of up to 25 feet to catch their prey.
One interesting characteristic of Double-crested Cormorants is their ability to regulate the buoyancy of their bodies. Unlike most other waterbirds, which have a layer of air-filled feathers that provide buoyancy, cormorants have heavy, solid bones that allow them to sink in the water. To compensate for this, they are able to expel air from their lungs and flatten their feathers, which allows them to sink more quickly. This adaptation allows them to dive deeper and stay submerged for longer periods of time than many other waterbirds – around one minute.
The American White Pelican is a magnificent bird known for its large size and beautiful plumage. With its white feathers, yellow bill, and striking wingspan of up to nine feet, it is truly a sight to behold. Pelicans are social creatures and can often be found in large groups, known as pods, swimming and feeding together in freshwater lakes and rivers.
American White Pelicans are known for their unique foraging technique called “cooperative fishing.” This involves a group of pelicans working together to corral fish into shallow waters where they can easily scoop them up in their large bills. This behaviour is not only fascinating to watch but also demonstrates the intelligence and teamwork of these birds. Additionally, during mating season, the males will display their stunning plumage and perform elaborate courtship dances to attract a mate. These displays are a true spectacle and a testament to the beauty and grace of these birds.
Which one of these waterfowl is your favourite? Is there another species you’ve seen that you enjoy watching? Post about it in the comments below!