Red Breasted Merganser Duck
The Red Breasted Merganser Duck (Mergus serrator) is a diving duck, one of the sawbills. The bulk of the red breasted merganser duck populations that breed in the interior of North America migrate toward the Atlantic or Pacific coasts before reaching their wintering grounds, though a small number migrate into the Great Lakes.
Male – The male Red Breasted Merganser Duck has a dark green head with a long distinctive spiky crest, long thin red serrated beak, red eyes, white neck, finely black spotted rusty colored breast, under-sides are creamy-white, flanks are white with fine black barring, a black back, and legs and feet are red.
Female – The female has a rusty colored head with a smaller crest, mottled grey-brown body, reddish-brown eyes, slightly less reddish beak and legs than the male.
Eclipse – The male in eclipse plumage is similar to the female but has a darker mantle, and retains its wing pattern which is visible. The beak and legs are also redder than the female.
Size: – Typical Adult is 20-23 inches.
Food: – Small fish, eels, crustaceans, and aquatic insects.
Habitat: – Lakes, rivers, pools, and coastal waters in northern Europe, Siberia, Alaska, Canada, and Aleutians. Breeds further north than most Mergansers. Winters further south in Europe and across North America down to Arizona, New Mexico, and north-west Texas.
Breeding Season: – End of May to mid-July.
Eggs: – 7 to 12 (greenish-buff color).
Notes: – The Red Breasted Merganser Duck is a sea duck which is able to dive for fish and stay underwater for some time and uses its sawbill to grip the 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.