[Tweeters] Seward Park: Merganserlets and Golden-crowned Sparrow

Tucker, Trileigh TRI at seattleu.edu
Sat May 11 17:49:42 PDT 2013

Hi Tweeters,

Happy International Migratory Bird Day! For a change of scene, I spent a couple of hours in Seward Park today, starting with a visit to the IMBD exhibits at the Seward Park Environmental Learning Center.

Then I walked along the eastern shore for a bit, figuring I might see freshwater birds I don't get to observe in Lincoln Park. While I was standing in the path trying to figure out what a particular bzzzzt in nearby Doug Fir branches might be, someone walked up to me and asked whether I was a birdwatcher – presumably just being courteous, since my binocs and large lens were hanging obviously around my neck. He said he'd just seen a pointy-haired bird lead a bunch of ducklings across the path from the woods to the water, and showed me a cellphone photo of a Red-breasted Merganser.

I'd been planning to head up into the forest, but of course that story instantly changed my plans! So I walked northward along the water for perhaps another 1/2 mile, and lo and behold found the protective mother with her brood, swimming across an open gap between two sections of shrubby shoreline. Sibley says that these ducks often will take their young directly to water "as soon as all or most are dry" - which would mean that these babies were freshly hatched had been on the water a total of perhaps 30 minutes in their entire lives when I saw them! Very exciting.

I found bits of flattened grass at the edge of the woods that suggested a merganser path to the water, and looked around briefly for a nest, but didn't see anything obvious.

Photos are at flickr.com/photos/trileigh. The man who told me about them said one duckling seemed to be having trouble keeping up – I wonder if that's the one on her back in the photo? Or alternatively, whether the most developed little one would be the successful one in getting the free ride?

I also saw a late-ish Golden-crowned Sparrow (photos on Flickr).

(Some thoughts on IMBD are on my website at naturalpresence.wordpress.com.)

Good birding to all,

Trileigh Tucker
Lincoln Park, West Seattle
Natural history website: naturalpresence.wordpress.com
Flickr page: flickr.com/photos/trileigh

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