Hooded Merganser – Mount | Hen | Drake | Call | Range | Facts

Hooded Merganser

The hooded merganser, scientific name Lophodytes cucullatus is a species of merganser. It is the one extant species within the genus Lophodytes. The genus name derives from the Greek language: lophos which means ‘crest’, and duties which means ‘diver’. The bird is putting in look; each sex have crests that they’ll increase or decrease, and the breeding plumage of the male is handsomely patterned and colored. The hooded merganser has a sawbill however is just not categorized as a typical merganser. In this article, I am going to talk about Hooded Merganser mount, hen, drake, call, range, vs bufferhead, etc.

Hooded Merganser profile

“Hooded” is one thing of an understatement for this extravagantly crested little duck. Adult males are a sight to behold, with sharp black-and-white patterns set off by chestnut flanks.

Females get their very own distinctive class from their cinnamon crest. Hooded Mergansers are pretty frequent on small ponds and rivers, the place they dive for fish, crayfish, and different meals, seizing it of their skinny, serrated payments. They nest in tree cavities; the ducklings depart with a daring leap to the forest ground when solely in the future old.

Hooded mergansers are the second smallest species of merganser, with solely the smew of Europe and Asia being smaller, and it is also the one merganser whose native habitat is restricted to North America.

A species of fossil merganser from the Late Pleistocene of Vero Beach, Florida, was described as Querquedula floridana (a genus now included in Anas), however upon reexamination turned out to be a species intently associated to the hooded merganser; it’s now named Lophodytes floridanus, however, the actual relationship between this bird and the modern species is unknown.

Mergansers are our sole geese focusing on consuming fish. The Hooded is the smallest of our three native merganser species and infrequently appears to be the least quite a few, because it tends to reside around swamps and wooded ponds the place it could be neglected.

A cavity nester alongside wooded waterways within the temperate elements of North America, it has in all probability benefitted by profiting from nest containers put out for Wood Ducks.

Hooded Merganser Description

The hooded merganser is a sexually dimorphic species. The grownup feminine has a greyish-brown body, with a slender white patch over the decrease breast and stomach.

She has a light reddish-brown crest extending from the back of the top. During the non-breeding season, the male appears to be just like the feminine, besides that his eyes are yellow and the feminine’s eyes are brown.

Inbreeding plumage the dorsal areas and the top, neck, and breast of the mature male are primarily black with white markings; there are massive white patches on both aspects of the crest, and they’re notably conspicuous when he raises his crest throughout courtship.

His decrease flanks are a wealthy reddish-brown or chestnut in color, and the breast and undersides are more or much less white, extending into white stripes throughout the crop and breast.

In each sex there are slender white stripes alongside the tertial wing feathers; when the bird is in repose they have the looks of longitudinal white stripes alongside the bird’s decrease back if they’re seen.

First-winter birds differ from grownup females in look in that they have a grey-brown neck and higher elements; the higher elements of grownup females are a lot darker — practically black.

Furthermore, the younger birds have narrower white edges to their tertial feathers than adults do. Females of all ages are dark-eyed, whereas in males the eyes develop into pale throughout their first winter.


Length: 15.8-19.three in (40-49 cm)
Weight: 16.0-31.Zero oz (453-879 g)
Wingspan: 23.6-26.Zero in (60-66 cm)

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Color Pattern

Adult male Hooded Mergansers are black above, with a white breast and wealthy chestnut flanks. The blackhead has a big white patch that varies in size when the crest is raised or lowered, however is at all times distinguished. Females and immatures are grey and brown, with heat tawny-cinnamon tones on the top.

Hooded Merganser Distribution and habitat

Hooded mergansers are short-distance migrants, and so they winter within the United States in areas the place winter temperatures enable for ice-free circumstances on ponds, lakes, and rivers.

They have two main year-round ranges. One is within the eastern United States from southern Canada–US border alongside the Atlantic Coast to the Gulf Coast within the area of the Mississippi delta. A smaller year-round range extends from Washington state and southern British Columbia to northern Idaho.

They additionally breed to some extent in areas from Missouri to southern Canada and from Nova Scotia to eastern North Dakota and Saskatchewan, migrating when essential to keep away from winter circumstances.

For preference, the hooded merganser lives on small bodies of water equivalent to ponds and small estuaries the place there may be ample emergent aquatic vegetation, however, it additionally inhabits bigger wetlands, impoundments, flooded timber, and rivers. They favor recent water however do happen on brackish water our bodies as effectively.

Hooded Merganser Diet

The hooded merganser is a diving predator that largely hunts by sight whereas beneath the water. Most research reports that its eating regimen varies in accordance with circumstances, normally being dominated by fishes (44-81%).

In addition, it feeds on aquatic bugs (13-20% of its eating regimen) and different aquatic invertebrates equivalent to crabs and crayfish (22-50%).


Hooded Mergansers dive to catch aquatic bugs, crayfish, and small fish. Males court docket females by increasing their white, sail-like crests and making very low, gravelly, groaning calls. Hooded Mergansers fly distinctively, with shallow, very speedy wingbeats.

Hooded Merganser Reproduction

Males and females of the hooded merganser kind monogamous pairs and so they stay collectively till the feminine has chosen a nesting cavity and accomplished laying her clutch.

After that, the male leaves the feminine to incubate and take care of the brood. Females will actively search out cavities in useless bushes or artificial nest containers equivalent to these supplied for nesting wooden geese.

They favor cavities 4–15 toes off the bottom. Breeding happens anytime between the tip of February and the tip of June, relying on the area.

The female will lay a clutch of 7-15 eggs however solely begins incubation when the final egg has been laid, thereby allowing synchronous hatching.

All hatchlings are consequently of the identical size, which facilitates environment-friendly parental care. During incubation, the feminine might lose wherever from 8% to 16% of her body weight.

Like most waterbirds, hooded merganser hatchlings are precocial and normally go away from the nest 24 hours after they hatch; that is about long sufficient to accommodate synchronous hatching. Once they go away from the nest, the younger are able to diving and foraging, however, stay with the feminine for heat and safety.

Feeding Behavior

Forages by diving and swimming underwater, propelled by toes. Apparently finds all its meals by sight; eyes tailored for good underwater imaginative and prescient.

Hooded Merganser Eggs

10-12, generally 7-13. White. Eggshell thicker than in most geese. Females usually lay eggs in every others’ nests, additionally in nests of Wood Ducks and others. Incubation is by feminine solely, 26-41 days, normally about 33 days.

Young: inside 24 hours after hatching, younger go away nest; feminine calls to them from under, younger climb to cavity entrance and soar to ground. Young discover their very own meals; feminine tends younger for a number of weeks. Young fledge about 70 days after hatching.


Inside 24 hours after hatching, younger go away nest; feminine calls to them from under, younger climb to cavity entrance and soar to ground. Young discover their very own meals; feminine tends younger for a number of weeks. Young fledge about 70 days after hatching.

Hooded Merganser Diet

Fish and different aquatic life. Feeds primarily on small fish, crayfish and different crustaceans, and aquatic bugs; additionally some tadpoles, a number of mollusks, small quantities of plant materials. Young ducklings eat principally bugs at first.


Pairs might kind in late fall or winter. In most courtship shows, the male’s crest is prominently raised and spread. Nest web site is in tree cavity close to water, normally 10′-50′ above ground, hardly ever as much as 80′ or more.

Also makes use of artificial nest containers. Nest of natural wood chips and particles in the backside of the cavity, with down added.

Management and conservation

Population declines prior to now have been linked with massive scale deforestation. Because these waterfowl are cavity nesters, they require mature bushes wherein appropriate nesting websites are prone to be discovered.

It has been steered that in recent times correct timber management is growing obtainable habitat efficiently. One precedence consideration when managing wooded habitat for cavity-nesting geese is to keep up enough inhabitants of mature bushes wherein appropriate nesting cavities can be plentiful. In addition, these geese do make use of artificial nest containers when obtainable.

Because of their excessive reliance on aquatic prey, hooded mergansers are very prone to hurt from many varieties of air pollution, a few of that are poisons that accumulate within the meals organisms, straight poisoning predators excessive within the meals chain, and a few of which merely scale back the populations of their prey.

Other Recommended Reading

Hooded Merganser Facts

  1. Along with Wood Ducks and different cavity-nesting ducks, Hooded Mergansers usually lay their eggs in different females’ nests. This is known as “brood parasitism” and is just like the apply of Brown-headed Cowbirds, besides that the geese solely lay eggs in nests of their very own species. Female Hooded
  2. Mergansers can lay as much as about 13 eggs in a clutch, however, nests have been discovered with as much as 44 eggs in them.
  3. Hooded Mergansers discover their prey underwater by sight. They can truly change the refractive properties of their eyes to enhance their underwater imagination and prescient. In addition, they have an additional eyelid, known as a “nictitating membrane,” which is clear and helps shield the attention throughout swimming, like a pair of goggles.
  4. Hooded Merganser ducklings go away their nest cavity within 24 hours of hatching. First, their mom checks the world across the nest and calls to the nestlings from floor degree. From contained in the nest, the little fluffballs scramble as much as the doorway gap after which flutter to the bottom, which can be 50 toes or more under them. In some instances, they need to stroll half a mile or more with their mom to the closest body of water.
  5. On the bird household tree, Hooded Mergansers (genus Lophodytes) lie between goldeneyes (Bucephala) and the opposite North American mergansers (Mergus). They share many courtship behaviors and calls with each of these teams.
  6. The Hooded Merganser is the second-smallest of the six residing species of mergansers (solely the Smew of Eurasia is smaller) and is the one restricted to North America.
  7. The oldest recorded Hooded Merganser was a male and no less than 14 years, 6 months old when he was shot in Mississippi in 2009. He had been banned in Minnesota in 1995.

Hooded Merganser Identification

Hooded Mergansers are pretty frequent on small ponds and streams throughout their breeding range. In fall via spring, head to unfrozen lakes or shallow protected saltwater bays and search for them blended in flocks with different small divers like Bufflehead and Ruddy Ducks.

Pay consideration for flying geese too—a quick sequence of truncated whistles from excessive overhead might sign the speedy wingbeats of commuting merganser. Learn more about marbled godwit.

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