Order: Anseriformes
Family: Anatidae
Genus: Mergus
Species: Mergus merganser


The Common Merganser (Mergus merganser) is a medium-large bodied piscivorous duck of forested rivers and lakes throughout the northern hemisphere. There are 3 subspecies found throughout its range, each with slight plumage and anatomical differences, including M.m. americanus of North America, M.m. merganser of Europe and Northern Asia and M.m. orientalis of Central Asia (Pearce, Mallory, & Metz, 2015). M.m. americanus is known as the Common Merganser while the subspecies of Eurasia are commonly called the Goosander. The terms “Common Merganser” and “Goosander” will both be used on this page correlating to the subspecies’ information from specific studies.

Males in breeding plumage can be identified by their dark green head, black back, and white chest and sides. Females and non-breeding males have a gray body, cinnamon-brown head with a shaggy, mullet-like crest, white chin, and a cleanly delineated white lower chest. The feet and long, thin bills are a vibrant, dark, orange-coral color. Their closest relative and possible look-alike in North American is the Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator) (Pearce et al., 2015). The Common Merganser is slightly larger, with a distinct white chest and less of a crest on the male compared to the Red-breasted Merganser.

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