Birds of Evergreen

A guide to the avifauna of the campus core, forest, and beach

Hooded Merganser

Order: Anseriformes
Genus: Lophodytes
Species: Lophodytes cucullatus


The Hooded Merganser is a small duck identifiable by its crested head, which is a warm brown in adult females and black with a white spot on either side on adult males. This crest can be spread opened or closed, which can cause their crests to be much less prominent. When the crests are folded closed, Hooded Mergansers can be slightly harder to recognize from a distance (“Hooded Merganser” BirdWeb). They are common diving birds which can be seen capturing aquatic insects, small fish, and crustaceans on streams, lakes, and protected oceans (Dugger, Dugger and Fredrickson 2009). It is closely related and in many ways similar to the Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula), but it is smaller and less aggressive (Sénéchal, Gauthier, and Savard 2008).

Hooded Mergansers are a sexually dimorphic species. When in breeding plumage, the male has thinly barred warm brown sides and a black back with a few narrow white stripes on it. The face is black overall, and the hooded appearance is caused by the black rim which encircles the white spots on either side of the crest. It has yellow eyes and a white breast with black stripes down either side of it. The females are a cool brown all over their bodies, lighter on the breast and belly and darker on the back and wings. They have thin white stripes on the ends of their wings. The crest of the female is a cinnamon brown, and their eyes are yellow. They have long, thin, serrated black beaks (“Hooded Merganser” BirdWeb).

A female Hooded Merganser with a brownish body overall and a cinnamon crest on the left and a male Hooded Merganser with a brown and black body with a black crest with white spots of either side on the right.

Male and female Hooded Mergansers taken by Adrian Pingstone in February 2004.


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