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Red-breasted Merganser Mergus serrator


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Red-breasted Merganser, male
credit:  Peter Massas/CCSA

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

Description ADULT MALE Has a narrow reddish bill, a green head (looks dark in poor light), white neck, and streaked orange-red breast. Flanks are gray and back is black. Eclipse male is similar to adult female, but retains wing pattern. ADULT FEMALE Reddish bill, dirty orange head and nape, but a paler throat; body plumage is otherwise grayish buff. JUVENILE Resembles adult female.

Dimensions Length: 19-26" (48-66 cm)

Habitat Common. In summer, found on tundra and boreal forest lakes. Outside breeding season, most birds move to coasts although some may occur on large, ice-free freshwater lakes.

Observation Tips Easiest to find in winter: search estuaries and large, sheltered bays.

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

Voice Males utter soft, grunting display calls. Otherwise silent.

Discussion Slim diving duck. Recalls Common Merganser, but smaller and both sexes have shaggy, spiky, crest rather than a sleek head. Dives frequently in search of fish and invertebrates. In flight, both sexes show white on upper inner wing; extent is greatest in males, the white divided by two black lines.