In the Right Place: Speedster

Below is a female Merganser patrolling Patten Bay earlier this week. Judging from her hairdo and lipstick, we think that she’s a Red-Breasted Merganser, but she has traits of a Common Merganser. (She’s not a Hooded Merganser, the third type of this family.)


“Merganser” means “plunging goose,” according to its Latin roots. These birds plunge to 15 feet deep in the water in search of fish, their favorite food, but they’ll eat mussels, crabs, tadpoles, frogs, and salamanders in season. Mergansers also are called “sawbills,” due to their thin, serrated beaks that help them hold slippery prey. The Red-Breasted Merganser holds the record for fastest flying duck: 100 miles per hour, well ahead of second place Mallards that can reach 72. (Surry, Maine)