Common Merganser Duck
The Common Merganser Duck (North American) or goosander (Eurasian) (Mergus merganser) is a large duck, of rivers and lakes of forested areas of Europe, northern and central Asia, and North America. It eats fish and nests in holes in trees. Like the other mergansers, these fish-feeding ducks have serrated edges to their bills to help them grip their prey; they are therefore often known as “sawbills”. In addition to fish, they take a wide range of other aquatic prey, such as molluscs, crustaceans, worms, insect larvae, and amphibians; more rarely, small mammals and birds may be taken. Nesting is normally in a tree cavity, so it requires mature forest as its breeding habitat; they also readily use large nest boxes where provided.
Male – The male Common Merganser Duck has a black-greenish gloss head and neck, the long neck feathers make the head look larger, a white body with pink tinge, the back is glossy black with a grey tail, the wings largely white on the inner half and black on the outer half, a red thin but long hooked beak with red-orange legs and feet.
Female – The female Common Merganser Duck has a chestnut brown head, neck, and crest, with white upper chin, and upper-breast, upper parts are greyish-blue, under-parts are creamy-white, with grey flanks.
Eclipse – The male Common Merganser Duck in eclipse plumage is similar to the female but retains its wing pattern which is visible as a white patch. The head is a deeper brown than the female, the mantle is darker, and the beak is redder.
Size: – Typical Adult is 24-28 inches.
Food: – Fish, eels, molluscs, crustaceans, worms, insect larvae, and amphibians.
Habitat: – Lakes, rivers, estuaries and coastal waters in north America, northern Europe, Russia, China, and Japan.
Breeding Season: – Early April to early June.
Eggs: – 7 to 14 (creamy white color).
Notes: – The Goosander or Common Merganser Duck is a sea duck. It is an expert at diving for fish such as salmon and trout and has a sawbill to help grip the fish. This bird has become unpopular with anglers due to its efficiency in taking fish.
The different types of wild ducks can be grouped into puddle, aka “dabbling” and diving ducks. The dabblers mostly feed in smaller bodies of shallow water or along shorelines, where they are able to tip their bodies forward to reach their food on the bottom. There are divers who feed in deeper water where they dive and pursue their quarry. Some of these birds, the Harlequin Duck for example, actually dives to the bottom of fast-flowing waters and feeds on life forms attached to rocks.