• June 2024 Photo-observation of the Month

    A mother merganser cruises on calm waters with two ducklings riding on her back. @vtbirder

    Congratulations to iNaturalist user @vtbirder for winning the June 2024 Photo-observation of the Month for the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist! Their photograph of a mother Common Merganser (Mergus merganser) with two ducklings riding on her back received the most faves of any iNaturalist observation in Vermont during the past month.

    This past weekend, some of my Californian family members visited me in Vermont for the first time. On rainy Saturday, I assured them that it does not, in fact, rain ALL the time in Vermont and that it is actually quite nice when the sun is out (though I’m not sure I was convincing). We took a drizzly stroll around Church Street in Burlington which culminated in a visit to the waterfront on Lake Champlain. Right in front of us, we saw a female merganser and over a dozen ducklings trailing behind her in the water. The mother duck would stick her head in the water, then shoot forward like a speedboat with her legs driving her forward. All of the little ducklings copied her, becoming a flock of tiny, downy water rockets. I explained to my family that this is how Common Mergansers catch fish for food and that they also dive fully beneath the water to catch fish. The ducklings feed on small fish fry and freshwater invertebrates, and fledge when they’re 60-70 days old. Seeing ducklings certainly brightens up the most drizzly of rainy summer days.

    With 30,843 observations submitted by 2,226 observers in May, it was very competitive. Click on the image above to see and explore all of the amazing observations.

    Visit the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist where you can vote for the winner this month by clicking the ‘fave’ star on your favorite photo-observation. Make sure you get outdoors and record the biodiversity around you, then submit your discoveries and you could be a winner!

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