Nature Journal
with Photos

Hooded Merganser Identification Tips
(Credit: U. S. Geological Survey)
General Information
- 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
- White breast and belly
- Black and white stripes at forward portion of reddish
- Dark tail
- Inner half of upperwings whitish, bordered by 2 dark
- 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

Similar species

Adult male in alternate plumage is unmistakable. Female vaguely similar to other mergansers but much smaller with reddish fan-like crests and dark bill.
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