What’s the difference between female Common and Red-breasted Mergansers? / Toronto Island, February 4, 2020

Have a look at this bird:

Common Merganser (female)

and now this one:

They look a lot alike. The principal difference is that the first bird has a cleanish white chest and the second does not. The bird with the white-ish chest is a female Common Merganser. The other is a female Red-breasted Merganser.

Common merganser (female)
Red-breasted Merganser (female)

Common Mergansers are also a few cms longer.

Species list: mute swan, mallard, common goldeneye, bufflehead, long-tailed duck, lesser scaup, common goldeneye, red-breasted merganser, common merganser, ring-billed gull, blue jay, black-capped chickadee, white-breasted nuthatch, American robin, brown creeper, European starling, northern cardinal.  (17 species)

Mallard (female)
Common Merganser (female)
Red-breasted Merganser (male)
Long-tailed Duck (male)
Long-tailed Ducks
Common Goldeneyes (female)
American Robin
Northern Cardinal (female)
Northern Cardinal (male)

Some botany on this 3 degree, overcast morning:

Wild Wormwood (Artemisia campestris)
European Birch (Betula pendula)
European Birch (Betula pendula)
Scouring-rush Horsetail (Equisetum hyemale)

Park scenes:

Thanks to Joan Cotton for these photos of a Coyote crossing to the Island on the ice taken 2 years ago during one of these walks:

This morning’s group:


I hear a murmur faint and sweet,
And lo! The ice breaks as I look,
And living waters touch my feet.         – Jane Goodwin Austin (1831–94)

Miles Hearn

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