Tag Archives: Auckland Island Merganser

Marginalia, no.326

I gazed at her with the reverence of an ornithologist at the glimpse of an Auckland Island merganser.

~ Patrick Leigh Fermor, The Broken Road

In the nineteenth century, when Europeans and other mammals tried to settle the Auckland Islands, the local mergansers showed the world that they would not give up their roosting grounds without a fight. Rather than fly off when threatened, as any bird might do who was used to the predatory habits of mammals, they scurried along and made a stand at the nearest pile of rocks. History teaches us that valiant actors of this sort are generally honored, as the Auckland Island merganser was, by the tribute of total extinction.

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