Merganser Ducks

Merganser Ducks

The female common merganser ducks are unique-looking birds and contrast sharply with their male counterparts. So much so, that when I first saw photos of them, I thought they were different species. The males are black and white and the females are brownish-red and gray and sport fascinating crown feathers. Most of the photos I found were of either the female alone or with her brood. Take a look and see. Nature…endlessly fascinating.

Here’s a perfect, 1-minute video of mama merganser and her ducklings, some riding on her back, some swimming fast to keep up. Here’s a 2-minute video of a mama and her 2 dozen babies. Very sweet. They swim, they preen, then they nap. Yet, watching this 2-minute video of another large brood, it’s possible the merganser ducks do a duckling-day-care. Here’s what the author wrote: ‘Just before I could set my camera up I witnessed a Common Merganser mother of two, drop her brood off with a larger group. The mother of two headed up stream leaving her offspring with a single female Common Merganser who was already watching 15 young Mergansers.’ If you click on the video, you can read the rest of his thoughts.

FunFacts about Merganser Ducks: (Source)

  • Basic Information, quote: The common merganser (North American) or goosander (Eurasian) (Mergus merganser) is a large duck of rivers and lakes in forested areas of Europe, northern and central Asia, and North America. The common merganser eats fish and nests in holes in trees. (Source)
  • Merganser ducks are fish-feeding ducks so their bills have serrated edges which has given them the nickname ‘sawbills’.
  • Merganser ducks eat other aquatic prey like mollusks, larvae, worms, amphibians, and crustaceans.
  • Merganser ducks are both salt and freshwater ducks.
  • When they are on the hunt, they dive incessantly. They often travel a stream down for several miles and will either fly back up and start over or simply fish their way back up.
  • Merganser ducks will fish deep.
  • Gulls often hang around while Merganser’s dive for fish. If the duck has a fish, the gull tries to steal it away.
  • Merganser ducks will fish as a group by forming a half circle then forcing the fish into shallower water where they are captured more easily.
  • One duck will often perform sentry duty to warn the flock of danger.
  • Merganser ducks nest in tree cavities so they need a forest or woodland. Though in areas without trees they will nest along cliffs.
  • In terms of conservation, the species is not threatened.

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(Photos from Pixabay)

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We have a winner! Congrats Linda K.!!!

First July Winner: Kim C.!!!

June Winners: Mary M., Amy S., Mary P., and Suzi D!

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43 thoughts on “Merganser Ducks

  1. It’s amazing that the male and female Merganser ducks look so different. While it’s possible that I’ve seen the males before, I don’t recall ever seeing the interesting-looking female ducks before.

  2. Love the Mohawks! I would think the males would have it too, but maybe in the green. Either way, pretty birds.

  3. Amazing pictures! I don’t think I’ve seen these ducks before but then maybe I just don’t remember. It’s been awhile since I have been near any water and ducks. I enjoyed watching the videos and seeing the mother with her ducklings, cute how the babies ride their mother back.

  4. They are so cute! Love the way they share babysitting. That’s a good idea because they are such easy prey when they are little.

  5. I have never seen this duck before. Love the picture with the mama duck giving one of the babies a lift on her back. So adorable. It is about time that the female of the species is adorned with a striking crown.

    • Catedid,
      I agree completely! The females in this species look magnificent with both their coloring and their crowns!

      Buckeye Arizona USA

  6. Mother Nature surely surprises me on a daily basis. How wonderful they look.

  7. Although I have lived in all of the N.E. states, I never saw this type of duck.

    It stands out, so even with my pudding brain I would have remembered it.

    Only thing cuter than a baby duckling is a kitten.

    • Maureen,
      I got a kick out of that as well. It’s a real you-have-to-see-it-to-believe-it. I think it’s awesome the photographer got to watch it happen.

      Buckeye Arizona USA

  8. I have had the good fortune to see these ducks from time to time. They are certainly unusual and striking looking. Thank you for the information.

    • Amy,
      I think you were the only one who has seen these ducks in the wild. That’s awesome!

      Buckeye Arizona USA

  9. What beautiful ducks. What I think is nice is that while the males might look more striking at least the females aren’t drab like so many are, they are just as striking in their own way.

  10. I have never seen this breed of ducks. Love the pictures with the mother and little ones. Enjoyed the videos, especially the first one with the one little one having a hard time getting on Mom. They are gorgeous and those bills – wouldn’t want to get bitten by one of them!! AZ

  11. I think I have seen a carving at the museum near us. There’s a wonderful Duck Decoy museum in the historic district near me–the carvings showcased are true works of art and not used for hunting.

    denise from maryland

  12. I’ve never seen this breed of duck before and I sur wouldn’t have been able to match the male with the female before today. Thanks for all these terrific tidbits! I learn something new each time.

  13. You can’t help but smile when you see this female duck. Reminds me of when I get up of the morning lol. Seriously though it’s ironic that the male birds are prettier than the females. All the birds seem that way.

  14. I’ve never seen the brown headed ones before but the dark headed ones were always on the lake up at my Great Aunts in Northern Ontario Canada. Beautiful birds. NE Ohio.

  15. I like rubber duckies – I collect them- but I don’t like real ducks. *chuckles* I think they’re ugly. I know it’s mean but I can’t help it.

  16. I know I’ve seen them before, but I don’t believe Merganser ducks hang out around me in San Antonio, TX. Maybe I’ve seen them when I’ve traveled. They are lovely.

  17. Wow the males and females really are extremely different. The body shape, heads and beaks are all different. I really enjoyed learning about these ducks. Thanks Caris!

  18. I was lucky enough to see these lovely ducks on Anglesey Island in Wales UK. They were with other diving ducks and are trully gorgeous.I loved the photos of them the females are allowed colour unlike a lot of birds which have to be dull to camouflage their position as they are often out in the open. I admit I’m “quackers” about ducks and when i can I go bird watching just to see the ducks

  19. Such a major difference between the male and female. To my eye, all the baby ducks have the female’s coloring.

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