Heavy rains and snow melt have turned the main stem of the Susquehanna and its larger tributaries into a muddy torrent. For fish-eating (piscivorous) ducks, the poor visibility in fast-flowing turbid waters forces them to seek better places to dive for food. With man-made lakes and ponds throughout most of the region still ice-free, waterfowl are taking to these sources of open water until the rivers and streams recede and clear.
With a hard freeze on the way, the fight for life will get even more desperate in the coming weeks. Lakes will ice over and the struggle for food will intensify. Fortunately for mergansers and other piscivorous waterfowl, high water on the Susquehanna is expected to recede and clarify, allowing them to return to their traditional environs. Those with the most suitable skills and adaptations to survive until spring will have a chance to breed and pass their vigor on to a new generation of these amazing birds.