Hooded Merganser

Hooded Merganser

Birds

SCIENTIFIC CLASSIFICATION

COMMON NAME: hooded merganser
KINGDOM: Animalia
PHYLUM: Chordata
CLASS: Aves
ORDER: Anseriformes
FAMILY: Anatidae
SUBFAMILY: Mergini
GENUS SPECIES: Mergus (diving bird) cucullatus (a hood)

FAST FACTS

DESCRIPTION: Both males and females of this species have large erectile crests resembling a hood and long tails for great maneuverability in flight.
MALE Males have eclipse plumage, which turns black, brown, and white during breeding season, and the male eye markings are yellow.
FEMALE Females have brown eyes and are brownish in color.
SIZE: Approximately 42-50 cm (16.8-20 in.) in length; wingspan 56-70 cm (22.4-28 in.)
WEIGHT:  
MALE Approximately 680 g (23.8 oz)
FEMALE Approximately 540 g (18.9 oz)
DIET: Feeds primarily on fish; diet also includes frogs, tadpoles, crustaceans, and small mollusks
INCUBATION: 32 days; breeding takes place March through May
CLUTCH SIZE 9-11 eggs
FLEDGING DURATION 71 days
SEXUAL MATURITY: Approximately 2 years
LIFE SPAN: No data
RANGE: Throughout North America, except the far northern latitudes and only into the northern part of Baja California, Mexico
HABITAT: Found in freshwater sloughs, streams, ponds, and swamps
POPULATION: GLOBAL Unknown
STATUS: IUCN Not listed
CITES Not listed
USFWS Not listed

FUN FACTS

1. Males are called drakes, females are hens, and young are ducklings.
2. Mergansers can fly at speeds approaching 50 mph.
3. Mergansers are also able to catch fish by direct underwater pursuit, remaining submerged for up to 2 minutes!  They resurface to swallow their prey, turning it around so it is swallowed headfirst. This method avoids injury from the spiny fins of some types of fish.
4. Some refer to hooded mergansers as frog ducks because of the long guttural call that can be heard a half mile away.
5. Ducklings in the water may gather together in a tight compact group resembling a swimming muskrat. This instinctive behavior may deceive aerial predators like sharp-shinned hawks.
6. Hens frequently select nesting cavities as high as 75 feet above ground.

ECOLOGY AND CONSERVATION

Hooded mergansers help maintain fish and amphibian populations.

Though not listed as endangered, the future for this species may not be optimistic. Forest destruction and stream water pollution has reduced their breeding grounds. In some areas, fish farmers and anglers hunt hooded mergansers because they feel the ducks destroy the fish populations in those areas.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Austin, G. Birds of the World. New York. Golden Press, Inc., 1961.

Gotch, A.F. Birds - Their Latin Names Explained. UK. Blandford Books Ltd., 1981.

Johnsgard, P. Ducks, Geese, and Swans of the World. Lincoln. Univ. Of Neb. Press, 1978.

Palmer, R.S. (ed.). Handbook of North American Birds. Vol. 4. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988.

Scott, P. A Coloured Key of the Wildfowl of the World. Slimbridge, England. The Wildfowl Trust. 1988.

Todd, F.S. Natural History of Waterfowl. San Diego, Ca. Ibis Publishing Co., 1996.

animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/lophodytes/l._
cucullatus$narrative.htm