Hooded Merganser

Lophodytes cucullatus

The picture shows a swimming Hooded Merganser from the side. IUCN Red List endangerment category: Least concern
  • Family
    Anatidae (Ducks, geese and swans)
  • Weight
    550 – 700 g
  • Habitat
    Forest lakes

Beautiful headdress

Both male and female have elongated feathers extending from the back of their heads. The male erects the feathers on its head into a fan-shaped crest to attract females and scare off predators. The raised crest or “hoodie” makes the male’s head appear much larger. They nest in tree cavities and often lay their eggs in other female’s nest. The male stays with the female until she starts breeding, after which he leaves her to incubate and care for the brood.

A Hooded Merganser is standing in profile.

Hunter under water

Compared to most species of ducks, the hooded merganser has a narrower, serrated toothed bill with a hook-shaped tip. The serrated bill helps the bird grasp its slippery prey, which consists mainly of fish, water insects and crustaceans. Hooded mergansers dive for their prey. To enhance their vision underwater, they have evolved special transparent eyelids that work like a pair of swimming goggles

To reach their wintering grounds, hooded mergansers often prefer to swim along the waterways rather than flying.