Ducks on Lake Ontario


Lake Ontario is big and where I am today, the Niagara River feeds into the Lake. All the ice floes this winter would have made any polar bear quite happy. The Niagara River flows northward from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario for a distance of 36 miles and is known for the salmon.


The ducks in this post are Red-breasted Mergansers, a diving duck. They have a serrated bill for catching fish. They mosey along in the water near the shoreline after the group of them drive fish shoreward.


Searching for food, the lone Merganser is on his own.


You can tell he is near shore as the light reflects off rocks below.


The river is composed of two parts, the Upper and Lower Niagara, separated at Niagara Falls. The Lower Niagara River is approximately 14 miles in length, and fishing opportunities are had from the Whirlpool north to the mouth of the river at Lake Ontario. The lower river is well-known for its Chinook salmon, rainbow trout and walleye fishing, all a bit big for our duck unless he gets a young one.


Ducks like fish too. Here we find lots of ducks diving for their dinner. If you are fishing, the international border runs down the middle of the river and you must have a license from both jurisdictions if your boat wanders from one side to the other. If you are a duck, no special license is required.


Once underwater, the birds use their feet and wings to propel them downward. They steer by shifting their head and tail positions. Once near the bottom, diving ducks use their feet to hover in position while they forage. Leaving the surface and then quietly resurfacing elsewhere, the Red-breasted Mergansers often fish together.


The next pair of Mergansers had gotten a rather large fish and eaten most before gulls came to steal their meal.


But the ducks go on the offense.


The male swims in while the female comes from behind.



Tug of war…


She gets part of her fish back… and is mobbed.


She takes a dive… but so does the gull…


And wins the fish.

About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at:
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22 Responses to Ducks on Lake Ontario

  1. Wow! What cool action shots!

  2. I can’t believe the little ducks stood up to the much larger seagulls with their razor sharp beaks. I guess if you fish on the river you need a passport too, interesting.

  3. alesiablogs says:

    Very informative! You know I wonder if those ducks would go for getting their picture on a passport! Glad they don’t have to! Lol

  4. Jet Eliot says:

    Wonderful drama to watch unfold with photos to go with it. Especially liked the red-breasted merganser photos, they’re not an easy bird to see where I live. Thank you.

  5. Debra says:

    Hilarious tale/photos!
    In the first picture the fluffy ice could be mistaken for clouds. I have to say I am astonished the water is so clear. What does that indicate about the water’s health? Like: is that good or bad?

  6. Phil Lanoue says:

    What an outstanding series! Loved the battle over the fish!

  7. great photos!  the gulls are such bullies!  it’s nice to see the under-dogs/ducks standing up for their rightful catch!



  8. Down with the dastardly gulls! Yay for the plucky ducks! I particularly like their haircut, kind of a punk look.

  9. Brilliant photos. I love the story as well. 😀

  10. The Editors of Garden Variety says:

    Awwww…poor little guy. I love your pictures!

  11. Pat says:

    Fantastic action series!

  12. Oh wow, they need a referee!

  13. Indie says:

    Ever watch the movie Finding Nemo? There are a flock of seagulls in the movie that constantly say ‘Mine! Mine!’ This reminded me a lot of that. Good for the ducks for trying to stand up to them, too bad their catch got stolen!

  14. Annette says:

    So much learned through your post, and the merganser does not only look cheeky, he seems to be cheeky too!

  15. mazza18467 says:

    Cool , bur when I call the merganser a duck then my teacher in birds is very upset. Here it is a separate species called zaagbek, translated sawbeak. not very common

  16. janechese says:

    That is a surprisingly large fish.

  17. This post is a perfect storyboard! I love ducks!

  18. I’ve read that the Great Lakes are 90% frozen over this year…these photos and your story helps me to keep that stat in perspective; allowing me to visualize one GL, Lake Ontario, during this season of extra-cold winter weather. Thanks.

  19. mariekeates says:

    Great photos. I love watching the ducks and gulls.

  20. Fossillady says:

    The gulls are too big . . . I was rooting for the cute little duck! Great drama you captured Donna!

  21. A.M.B. says:

    “f you are a duck, no special license is required.” Ha!
    Great post.

  22. Lake Ontario is an amazing lake as it spans so much of NY and affects our winter weather dramatically…love the birds and bird wars…you are amazing in what you capture.

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