Peculiarities and habitat of duck
Krokhal is a duck common everywhere and familiar to every European hunter. In the photo, the merganser often looks disheveled. This is because the bird is an excellent diver, loves to dive very much and does it almost constantly, to a depth of 2 to 4 meters, regardless of whether the little merchants need fish at the moment or not.
The features of these ducks include the beak — a long, bright, cylindrical, slightly curving toward the end and strewn with sharp teeth at the inner edges, helping birds in fishing.
They also have an elongated oval body, on average up to 57-59 cm long and an elongated neck. The wingspan of these ducks can reach 70-88 cm, and their weight ranges from 1200 to 2480 grams, which made the birds one of the most popular objects for hunting.
As for the color of plumage, females, like other birds, are smaller and paler, they are gray with not very noticeable brown patches. But the drakes are different, they flaunt a greenish tint of feathers on the head, a black tuft, white stripes on the wings and a brownish-blackish tinge of feathers on the back, and in some species it is also a white throat and goiter.
Such birds, even constantly diving, are hard not to notice on the surface of the water. Crocodile ducks live, mainly in freshwater lakes, where most of their photos have been taken, but they are not averse to settling in a river with a small current, and some quietly settle in sea bays if there are no strong waves in them.
You can meet this bird in every corner of the planet, in any hemisphere and climate, and in some countries, for example, in Japan, the hunt for merchants is prohibited from the end of the 19th century, and the birds themselves are protected long before the worldwide recognition of their small number.
Character and way of life
Krokhal is a migratory bird, the nesting grounds of these ducks cover all forest areas with rivers and lakes in the middle belt. Starting from Western Europe and ending with the Himalayas and the Far East, they overwinter along the shores of the Atlantic, the Pacific Ocean, in the south of China, on the shores of the Mediterranean, wherever there is heat and where there is fish.
In the spring, the birds arrive one of the first, literally immediately, as soon as polynyas are formed, that is, from late March to early June. As for the nature of the birds, they are serious, family ducks, quite capable of repelling a not particularly large predator who decides to feast on their eggs or small chicks. Autumn departure for wintering begins late, along with the freezing of water, that is, in late October or in November.
Krokhal — duck is exclusively zoophagous, lives by that it gets for itself on fishing. The basis of feeding these birds is fish, and they easily cope with fish 17-20 cm long.
Similarly, ducks never neglect mollusks, crustaceans, and even insects. During the migration of these birds, during stops, it is quite often possible to observe their collective fishing.
The spectacle is quite impressive — a flock of several hundred ducks, united from various shoals, swims like a cruising squadron in one direction, and suddenly all the birds dive at the same time. And at that time the seagulls are circling in the sky, like air support and quickly seize from the surface of the fish that the ducks scared.
Types of merganser ducks
With the classification of these ducks at the end of the 20th century, some difficulties arose, and two species — trays and American Crested were assigned to other families. Thus, of the seven varieties of the merganser, only five remain, one of which, Auckland, has not been seen since 1902 and is considered to be officially extinct. Accordingly, there are only four varieties of merchants, which are listed in the Red Book.
- Big merganser
It is the largest representative of these ducks, similar to a small goose. The drakes are very brightly colored, and are forged with snow-white breasts and tail plumage. The territory of nestings covers the entire middle lane, both in the eastern and western hemispheres, birds winter in southern latitudes, while in some regions of Central Asia, in lakes in the lower reaches of the Himalayan mountains and in California lakes, large crumbs live sedentary, not flying away.
- Scaly King
This is the most ancient and most beautiful view of the entire family of ducks. Half of his tola is like a pattern of fancy lace, or scales. It is because of this particular appearance duck got its name.
These graceful beauties live exclusively in the East, the nesting place passes in the region of the Far East in Russia and the northeastern regions of China, in the north of Japan, and they fly through the winter to warm waters of Southeast Asia.
The fastest-shrinking and protected of all populations of merganser. The decrease in the number of these birds is due to pollution of water bodies, deforestation, which disrupts the ecosystem and other human activities.
- Long-nosed merganser
Or — krohal middle. The most common and famous species of these ducks. The bird is really average, its weight is about one and a half kilograms, and its length varies within 48-58 cm. But these teeth have more teeth — 18-20, unlike a big merganser, having only 12-16 teeth. This results from the fact that the beak of an average krokhalya is longer.
On the nesting place of these birds can be found everywhere, from tundra to forest-steppe, in both hemispheres. They fly off to winter to warm water bodies in the north of subtropical areas, while on the coasts of Western Europe, including the UK, they live year-round, settled.
When the artists of the Middle Ages, and of a later period, for example, of the 19th century, depicted duck hunting scenes — these were the hunting scenes specifically for long-nosed merchants. Today, these birds cannot be hunted.
- Brazilian merganser
Very small and rare species. It dwells exclusively in the Western Hemisphere, with the desire and patience of these ducks can be seen in the waters of Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina.
As far as ornithologists are aware, the total population is hardly more than 300–350 birds, 250 of which are ringed, and 200 reside in the large Sierra da Canastra reserve in Brazil. Control over the number and life of these ducks has been continuously carried out since 2013.
The smallest of all the merchants — the weight of the bird is from 550 to 700 grams, the length corresponds to the weight. In addition to size, this species is notable for its love of hiking on land, these ducks live in pairs, and prefer to build nests in spacious hollows of tall trees. However, they feed in the same way as their relatives, exclusively by fishing for themselves.
Reproduction and life expectancy
Krokhali, ducks are family, the couple develops on reaching puberty. Approaching about 1.5-2.5 years and for life. To play their own kind, little ones, of course.
They build nests in very high grass, in tree hollows, in crevices or, in objects abandoned by people, for example, in an unfinished overgrown boat shed or rusted residue from a car. The nest is always lined with down and is located no further than a kilometer from the reservoir.
The ducks lay from 6 to 18 eggs, and they hatch from 30 to 40 days. Only females do this; drakes at this time live separately and, as a rule, their molting is usually for this period.
Nestlings hatch already pubescent, spend in the nest from 2 to 3 days, after which they go along with the female to the water and start the first swim in their life, during which they try to dive. Self-fishing for ducklings comes when they are 10-12 days old.
From the moment when the ducklings go out of the nest to their first flight, it takes from 55 to 65 days, sometimes longer. With that, the birds living settled, this period is stretched and ranges from 70 to 80 days, while the migratory is sometimes reduced to 50 days. In favorable conditions, the little ones live for 12-15 years, and as for the birds that are sedentary, their age can reach 16-17 years.