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Hooded Merganser

Classification
  • Order: Anseriformes
  • Family: Anatidae
  • Genus: Lophodytes
  • Species: cucullatus
Fun Fact

Hooded mergansers can change the refractive properties of their eyes in order to see underwater while they hunt. They also have a third, clear eyelid, called a nictitating membrane that protects their eye while swimming underwater.

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    About Hooded Mergansers

    The hooded merganser is the smallest of merganser species in North America. They have a slender bill tipped with a hooked nail. Hooded mergansers are agile swimmers and divers, but on land their legs are set back on their body making it awkward to walk. They are known for the hoods or crests on their heads.

    When the hooded merganser is breeding, males use their hood to attract the female merganser. Once they have mated, the females will often lay their eggs in other female mergansers’ nests. They typically lay up to about 13 eggs in a nest, but some nests have been found with up to 44 eggs in them!

    Hooded Mergansers in the Wild

    Habitat

    Forested wetlands, most commonly by the Great Lakes.

    Location

    They are found throughout North America.

    Diet

    The hooded merganser catches prey by swimming with their face under the water. Their diet consists of fish, crayfish, frogs, mud crabs, aquatic insects, insect larvae, and clams.

    Population Status

    This species is a species of “least concern.”

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