They Call Me “Hoody”

Alas, this poor outdoor girl was forced to work in an office today. It was a good winter day to go duck hunting, but my weapon of choice, a Canon 5D Mark III and the ‘baby” the 500mm F/4 L lens had to stay at home. Believe me, I was dragged kicking and screaming into the building.

Getting back home late afternoon, something white caught my eye on the river. Grabbing my always ready binoculars, I saw several Hooded Mergansers by the dock. Now I love Hoodies. They are one of the coolest little ducks that can be found overwintering on the Chesapeake Bay.

So I rushed (carefully) down to the water, using trees and brush to hide my approach. It didn’t take much for them to notice me coming. See, Hoodies are also quite shy as a duck and I could see the boy go on alert. The first few shots I captured was the usual duck images I usually get. Duck butt.


One of the things I love best about the Hoodies is that the girl is one bossy duck. She is always ahead of the male which is faithfully following behind. I’ve also watched a female duck swimming behind a boy, squawking her head off. Nag, Nag, Nag.


The male Hooded Merganser really has fascinating markings, and fluffs up the crown on his head when he’s trying to get a girl’s attention, or to call an alert. While we mostly only see these ducks during the winter, they are known to live in the Mid-Atlantic region year round. Strangely enough, this is yet another duck that likes to nest in trees. Somehow, webbed feet and nests in trees just doesn’t make sense to me.

There were six hoodies on the river when I got on the dock. Three went this-a-way, the others went that-a-way.


As the light began to dwindle even more, I sat there in hopes that the hoodies would come back. A pair of Great Blue Herons came rushing to the shore. One bullying the other to find a better landing spot.


It wasn’t the most ideal duck hunting that I wanted to do today, but hey – I’ll take it. Any day with the Hoodies is a good day. Hope you had a good day too.

26 replies »

    • Oh, but you have beautiful Lusitanos. I’d take them any day. I had a chance to go to Morgado Lusitano just outside Lisbon for a week of dressage training. It was incredible! I think of it often and would love to return.

  1. How very interesting! I had no idea some ducks built their nests on trees. Who would have thought? Your blog is a real education to me on birds and wildlife. It seems to me I have an awful lot to learn… I also love the fact the the female hoody is the boss. Oh yeah! 😉

    • It’s crazy ! This is the third duck so far that I know of that has nests in trees. It really is weird. Yeah baby – if I get reincarnated as a duck, I want to be a female hoody so I can boss the guys around. LOL !!

      For learning about wildlife, there is so much to discover. It’s like always being on a treasure hunt. Perhaps now when you travel to Provence your eyes will open to the natural world more and you’ll see things you never knew were there before. Hugs!

  2. I saw my first Hoody in the wild last year and boy was I thrilled. They are such cool birds. You got some good shots here, they’re so out in the open. I noticed mine in a river at the bottom of a steep bank with plenty of brush to make getting the shot a real pain. Plus I had my dog with me (two birds with one stone, photography & dog walk, not the best combo but I made it work). The snow was deep enough last year that they couldn’t see my dog nor she them but they were plenty worried about me and each time I moved to get a better shot they went the other way. My photos turned out kinda blurry but for me it was still a win. As always you captured their colors and details well. I did not know they nest in trees! Does seem strange.

    What a beautiful Heron! Birds intrigue me with their varied types of feathers. The fact that you were able to capture those sort of wiry (like dogs with wiry hair…sort of…) feathers on the back so well is wonderful. Too you’ve provided a beautiful example of why they’re called Great Blue Herons, even when it wasn’t all bright and sunny out! Great job. 😀

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