Date: 7/15/17 5:23 pm From: David Irons <LLSDIRONS...> Subject: [obol] Fernhill Merganser ID
Earlier this year (late spring) a well-documented Red-breasted Merganser appeared at Fernhill Wetlands. It was seen for a few days and then seemed to be gone. It was then reported/refound again in early July. I have been reviewing Washington County eBird reports today. I came across this (see attached image) and another photo of juvenile Hooded Mergansers attached to recent reports of Red-breasted Merganser from Fernhill.
Young Hooded Mergansers can be a bit confounding at first glance, as they tend to look proportionally longer-billed and far less crested than adults. They are more square headed and don't show much pattern and are often grayer-brown on the body than adult females.
In addition to the two reports that included photos of young Hooded Mergansers, there have been several other recent reports that were accompanied by scant and incomplete descriptions that read more like the description of a young Hooded Merganser rather than a Red-breasted. Many of these reports have mentioned issues with determining the sex of the bird or if it was a male in eclipse plumage, suggesting that perhaps the bird being seen looks atypical for a Red-breasted. I have not been to Fernhill in several months, so I have no way of knowing whether the real Red-breasted Merganser continues at Fernhill. The fact that Steve Nord and other regulars at Fernhill haven't been reporting the Red-breasted give me cause to wonder if the recent eBird reports have involved confusion with young Hoodeds.
If anyone can confirm the continuing presence of an actual Red-breasted Merganser at Fernhill Wetlands, please let me know and include a photo if you can.