Common Goldeneye x Hooded Merganser Hybrid – Presque Isle SP, PA

COGO X HOME - adult male at Marina Bay, Presque Isle SP on 2/14/12 (Photo by Jerry McWilliams)

One aspect that birding has to offer is that every once in a while you might get lucky to see an individual bird of a species you are familiar with, but due to a wide range of issues (leucism, albinism, melanism, etc) the bird is absolutely unique. One of my favorite things to see are hybrid birds. I’m sure lots of folks have seen Mallard X American Black Duck or maybe Herring Gull X Glaucous Gull. Waterfowl hybrids really fascinate me, so when I heard that there has been a Common Goldeneye X Hooded Merganser hybrid hanging around up at Presque Isle SP here in PA, I had to take a look at the pictures. I have seen photos of this hybrid combo before (in fact its not really all that rare) but each one is slightly different and unique. I emailed Jerry McWilliams to ask about photos, and right away he sent me the image above.  Common Goldeneye and Hooded Merganser both have a massive breeding range across North America and are also both cavity nesters. I wonder where this beautiful male hybrid came from?