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In a message dated 2/5/2007 4:48:53 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,  
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According to the Stevenson/Anderson The Birdlife of Florida, the  
Red-breasted Merganser "winters along the coast in large numbers of mostly  
female-plumaged birds, many of which are surely imm. males."  during the  two previous 
winters (2004-2006), however, postings of adult male-plumaged  individuals in the 
Big Bend seem to have far outnumbered those in female-like  garb, a matter 
which I can in part attest to when on 27 Jan 2006, Keith  MacVicar and Yours 
Truly noted several groups of predominantly gaudy males off  coastal Franklin 
County, including one count of 8 of the latter with one  female-like bird.  Before 
winters of 2004, however, I have seldom  observed such "gaudies" anywhere in 
any numbers.

Interestingly, as of  the end of January this winter, I have collected few 
reports of any  Red-breasted Mergansers, excepting scant numbers of mostly (?) 
individuals in  non-male plumage by Messers. Wraithmel and Cassidy.  Do birders 
at large  deign not to list the "non-gaudies"? (and would that not be a kind 
of  chauvinism?  UGH!)

I have been told that during fall/winter  migration, full-plumaged males are 
traditionally January birds, arriving after  the females and first year males 
which prompts recollection of a rather  "drollish" anecdote:  As of 5 Dec 1997 
I had staked out 2 female-plumaged  birds to be tallied by a birding party on 
the Tallahassee Xmas Count of 1 Jan  1998 (Lest we miss the species on said 
count).  I was somewhat taken  aback when later told that the party did not 
find those two individuals but  had listed at the same site a full-plumaged male 
instead.  And I would  add that all of my inland records of some 8-9 
full-plumaged males have been  after January, whereas my earliest known record 
county-wise individual in  non-male plumage is on 17 Nov 1995 (Southeast Farm - Katy 
Nesmith, Sally Jue,  GEM).

Speaking of ducks, were are those usual big numbers of  Blue-winged Teal at 
this time locally and elsewhere in the Big Bend?   During past winters, the 
species numbered in the hundreds at the Springhill  Road Sewage Treatment 
Facility in Leon County while NONE were tallied on  Tallahassee's Xmas County on 
December 30.  What gives?

Gail E.  Menk

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Hey Everybirdy, 
 
   Don Margeson and I, as well as many other  participants at the Rich Paul 
New Year's Day Birding Open, observed as many as  30 or more throughout Fort 
Desoto that day.  I recall, at the canal  overpass just before you reach the 
park visitor center, Don and I saw as many as  14-20 Red-breasted Mergansers on 
both sides of the overpass.  We certainly  viewed this as an interesting sight 
at the very least.  I do not recall any  "fully dressed" males, therefore I 
think it's safe to assume many were  females.
  Over here on the east coast, the RB Mergansers are  certainly present, but 
don't seem to be in the numbers there were last year at  this time, 
particularly at Merritt Island NWR.  

See you out there!

Thomas J. Dunkerton
Titusville,  Florida
_www.tjdunkerton.com_ (http://www.tjdunkerton.com) 


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