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Mergansers eating live shiners in the swamp – underwater video!

One of the more interesting aspects of our Cypress Swamp habitarium is the variety of species; from the American alligator and several turtle species to over a dozen fish species. But that’s just in the water.

The two-story glassed-in replica of a Virginia swamp also allows enough sunlight for live cypress and magnolia trees to thrive in which live birds make their homes. Brown thrashers, a red headed woodpecker and bobwhite quail can all be seen amongst the branches and boles. In the space between the land and water are our three mergansers. Comically awkward on land, these sleek waterfowl are master swimmers. Their bodies are squat with very rearward legs, making them waddle on land but virtually fly underwater – almost like a penguin bent forward. In the wild, mergansers chase down crayfish, frogs, salamanders and any species of fish small enough to swallow.

Three mergansers easily chase down golden shiners in our Cypress Swamp
Thankfully, most of our fishes are so large, the mergansers pose no threat. In fact, some of the fish species we feature – including the gator – are large enough to turn the tables on an unsuspecting bird or duckling given the opportunity. Both largemouth bass and channel catfish grow large enough and are capable of inhaling large prey items. These adult mergansers however are in no danger, not only are they too large for the fishes, but are too fast and armed with a beak that can discourage even the most aggressive bass. 

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