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Common Merganser Mergus merganser


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Common Merganser, male
credit: Mdf/CCSA

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Anatidae, Ducks and Geese view all from this family

Description ADULT MALE Unmistakable, with bright red-orange bill, glossy green head (looks dark in poor light), white body, and black back. Close view reveals pink wash on white breast and underparts. Eclipse male resembles adult female, although white wing pattern is retained. ADULT FEMALE Orange-red head and neck with shaggy crest and well defined white throat. Body plumage is grayish, palest on breast. Note the reddish orange bill. JUVENILE Resembles adult female, but with duller colors.

Dimensions Length: 22-27" (56-69 cm)

Habitat Widespread and common. In summer, favors wooded lakes and rivers; nests in tree holes. Outside breeding season, moves south to ice-free freshwater lakes across region; occasionally found on coasts.

Observation Tips Ice-bound lake margins often concentrate birds in winter.

Range Alaska, Southeast, California, Great Lakes, Rocky Mountains, Mid-Atlantic, Texas, Western Canada, Plains, New England, Southwest, Northwest, Florida, Eastern Canada

Voice Male utters ringing display calls. Otherwise silent.

Discussion Large, slender-bodied, and elegant diving duck that swims with a stately posture. Dives frequently for fish and invertebrates. In flight, upper surface of male's inner wing is white, except for narrow black line; in female, white is restricted to trailing edge.