Monday, 23 March 2015

Day 140 - Smashingly Smart Smews

Male Smew (Mergus albelus)
Hi all today's Day 140 and as you know, I have been at Washington Wetlands and Wildfowl Centre where I saw at least 21 species that I'd never seen before. One of these was one that I have wanted to see ever since I saw a picture of it and heard its name. My Mum thinks that their name sounds like Shmoo which is a cartoon character from a long, long, long time ago way before my Mum was even born.... I`m talking of course about a Smew!

Anyway, here are the facts:

  • A male Smew (a Drake) is unmistakable as its black and white feathers have been described as 'cracked ice' because of the patterns on their bodies.
Female Smew
  • If I didn't know already, I'd probably think that the male Smew and the female Smew were a completely different species because they look so different.
  • Smews only live in the South of England in Winter and don't live anywhere else at any time of the year. We saw them in the North of England in the Spring because it was a wildlife sanctuary of sorts.
  • They come from Denmark and Holland to escape the freezing temperatures of those countries. This only happens occasionally, though, as the majority come from Scandinavia and Russia in Winter.
  • They are an Amber Status bird even though there are only 180 wintering birds in the UK. It's also because there is only a small European population as in the Summer there are 1,300 - 2,000 breeding pairs.
  • They are 41cm in length and they have a 62cm wingspan. Males weigh 700g while females weigh 580g.
A pair of Smews
  • Smews have 2 local names, one for each gender. Males can be called 'White Nuns' and females can be called Redheads.
  • This is probably the first bird, apart from Herons, that I have covered in my blog whose diet consists of fish. The fish goes alongside insects which they find through diving.
  • In the wild they can live for 6 years while in captivity they can live for 8-10 years. I couldn't find the maximum life span of a Smew, sorry.
  • There have been fossils found dating back to the Pleistocene period that`s half a million years ago!
Here are some links to some mo' information:

Hope you enjoyed,


1 comment:

  1. I love Smews, they're so cute and the plumage on the male is so pretty! Great post, as always, Zach - Tasha