Red-breasted merganser stops by for a visit

Latest in birding news at the Dry Tortugas,

A female red-breasted merganser has spent the last 48 hours paddling around on the northeast side of the island, between Garden Key and Bush Key. She’s been swimming and feeding in very visible areas, and is quite a beautiful bird. I’ve posted several photos of the hen below.

Beautiful profile of the female red-breasted merganser.

Typical foraging behavior of mergansers, scanning beneath the water for small fish and crustaceans.

Great shot of the merg hen, just as a wave rolled by, obscuring everything but her head.

Lots of royal and sandwich terns are still around for the winter, and today, I saw one very big royal tern chick (indistinguishable from the adults) incessantly begging off of one of its parents. The poor adult was trying its best to ignore the chick, which it had no intention of feeding, but the chick continued to make pathetic chirps for minutes. Quite a sight!

Very big baby royal tern, begging (unsuccessfully) to a parent on the South helipad.

Royal tern parent is not impressed.

One lone American kestrel also remains at the Park, seen regularly flying within and outside Fort Jefferson.

Lone American kestrel hanging out around the camp grounds.

That’s all to report for now.

Happy birding,

–Chelsea B.

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