Subtle Differences

Uploaded 25 Nov 2012 — 2 favorites
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© Chuck Homler
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Photo license: © All rights reserved

In this photo are a male and female Hooded Merganser. I can't be sure, but I believe the female (foreground) is adult. The male is 100% a juvenile.

At first glance they look nearly identical. There are three differences that indicate the gender (and in the case of the male) the age.

1) Eye Color: The female has a darker, reddish eye. The make has a lighter, amber eye.

2) Bill Color: The male has a dark bill, the female has an orange-yellow lower mandible and the lower portion of her upper mandible too.

3) The hood: In adult birds the female looks the same. The adult make is a predominantly black and white with some chestnut and gray on the flanks. His hood is black with a large white patch. As a youngster, it looks very similar to the hen except for its shape. The female hood is a bit smaller and also it sticks up a bit. This image isn't the best for showing the differences there.

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