With a length of 15 to 20
inches, the hooded merganser is the smallest
North American merganser.
In addition to its small size,
it is distinguished from the other mergansers by
its brownish-black back and wings, black head
with white, fan-shaped crest bordered in black,
and white underside.
Hooded mergansers breed
throughout the Pacific Northwest of the United
States, across southern Canada, and east of the
Mississippi River, with the largest
concentrations found in the forested regions
around the Great Lakes. They winter along the
Pacific Coast of California, along the Atlantic
Coast from Delaware to Florida, and along the
Gulf Coast. In the winter they seek out shallow,
freshwater and brackish bays, estuaries, and
tidal creeks and ponds.
Pair bonding begins in November
Nesting is usually done in a
hollow tree near a woodland stream or pond, but
nest boxes and abandoned nest sites are also
utilized. When in a tree, the nest will be 4 to
15 feet off the ground. The male abandons the
female as soon as her eggs (7 to 15 per clutch)
are laid. Incubation lasts about a month, during
which period the female may lose up to 16% of her
Primary foods include aquatic
insects, fish, and crustaceans.
Habits and Behaviors
Hooded mergansers are clumsy,
but quick, flyers. They take off by running
across the water to gain flight speed, and often
land by "skiing" across the water to
come to a stop.
genus & species Lophodytes cucullatus
Animal Diversity Web http://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Lophodytes_cucullatus/
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