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On 2/11/2020 at 3:15 PM, akandula said:

@pictaker, the incoming black feathering around your merganser’s eye makes it a young male transitioning into adult plumage.

Although I tend to agree with you, Both Immature males and females can have the black feathers till their first adult molt. I was corrected many times by senior "birders" on this. The fact that this bird was with a mature male who actually was trying to mount it (and was successful once)makes me call it a female...

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2 hours ago, pictaker said:

Although I tend to agree with you, Both Immature males and females can have the black feathers till their first adult molt. I was corrected many times by senior "birders" on this. The fact that this bird was with a mature male who actually was trying to mount it (and was successful once)makes me call it a female...

That's really interesting. @Tony Leukering said in his article that "While you are looking at the eyes, note the color of the nearby plumage. The plumage around the eyes is among the first adult head plumage grown by first-year males transitioning to adult plumage, and any distinctly dark plumage there identifies the bird as a male." 

That's why I was arguing male. There's clearly distinct dark feathering near the eye and on the throat. Jay McGowan's checklist has an adult female that look identical to your bird. So, if your bird is really a female, is there a definitive way of sexing these plumage-types (without behavior observations)?

Very curious to see what Tony has to say. Really nice shot, by the way.

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