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Hooded Merganser Fact Sheet

  • Latin Name

    Mergus cucullatus
  • Class

  • Order

  • Range

    Southern Canada through the United States

  • Status


  • Habitat

    Breeds in forested areas near small lakes, pools and streams and winters on large lakes, rivers and brackish coastal lagoons and estuaries.

  • Niche

    The hooded merganser is a diving duck, finding its prey underwater by sight. The species feeds on aquatic insects, fish and crustaceans.

  • Life History

    The hooded merganser nests above the ground in tree cavities. The male leaves the female soon after she lays her eggs, leaving her responsible for all incubation. After hatching, chicks leave the nest with their mother within 24 hours; they are already able to dive and feed themselves, although they remain with their mother for another five weeks.

  • Special Adaptations

    • Like all ducks, the hooded merganser's feet are thin and flat, making it easier for them to paddle through the water.
    • The hooded merganser has a nictitating membrane (a transparent eyelid) that protects the species' eyes and enables it to see better while diving underwater.


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