Hooded Merganser

Hooded Merganser - Male

Hooded Merganser
(Lophodytes cucullatus)

Order:  Anseriformes
Family:  Anatidae

Hooded Merganser - Breeding Male
Photo © David Blevins

Hooded Merganser Information

Length:  16 - 19"

Habitat:  Wooded edges of freshwater lakes, ponds, streams, small rivers, and swamps. Prefers habitat undisturbed by human activity. Requires habitat with clear water for feeding and large trees with natural cavities for nesting.

In winter, habitat also includes coastal estuaries.

Diet:  Small fish, crayfish, other crustaceans, aquatic insects and their larvae, some aquatic plants and their seeds.

  Calls and sounds of the Hooded Merganser

Additional Information

Hooded Merganser
Description, distribution, behavior, diet, reproduction, and conservation status. Includes photos and range map. (From Wikipedia)

Female Hooded Merganser

Female Hooded Merganser

By Olaf Oliviero Riemer [CC SA 3.0]

Hooded Merganser
Identification Tips

  • Small, compact diving duck
  • Long, pointed bill with serrated edges
  • Erectile, fan-like crest extends from back of head
  • Dark bill and wings
  • Often cocks its tail like a Ruddy Duck
  • Immature similar to adult female
Adult male
  • Yellow eye
  • Black head and back
  • Large white patch in the center of the crest
  • Black and white stripes at forward portion of reddish flank
  • Dark tail
  • Inner half of upperwings whitish, bordered by 2 dark bars
  • Alternate plumage worn from fall through early summer
  • Male in basic eclipse plumage similar to adult female
Adult female
  • Brown eye
  • Cold gray-brown head, neck, flanks, back, and upperwings with paler breast
  • Faint reddish tinge to crest
  • White belly

(Credit: U. S. Geological Survey)

Breeding Bird Survey Map,

Hooded Merganser Breeding Map

(Image credit: USGS)

Range in New England

Hooded Mergansers are found year round throughout New England with the exception of northern Maine, where they are found mainly during the breeding season.

Range Map from eBird

Sightings of the Hooded Merganser throughout the year (1900-present)

Christmas Bird Count Map
Historical CBC Map from USGS