|Conservation status||Undoubtedly declined in past with loss of nesting habitat (large mature trees near water). Now population seems to be increasing, helped by artificial nest boxes, including those intended for Wood Ducks.|
|Family||Ducks and Geese|
|Habitat||Wooded lakes, ponds, rivers. In summer in forested country, along creeks, narrow rivers, edges of ponds. May be in more open marsh habitats if artificial nest sites are provided. In winter on woodland ponds, wooded swamps, fresh and brackish coastal estuaries.|
forages by diving and swimming underwater, propelled by feet. Apparently finds all its food by sight; eyes adapted for good underwater vision.
10-12, sometimes 7-13. White. Eggshell thicker than in most ducks. Females often lay eggs in each others' nests, also in nests of Wood Ducks and others. Incubation is by female only, 26-41 days, usually about 33 days. Young: within 24 hours after hatching, young leave nest; female calls to them from below, young climb to cavity entrance and jump to ground. Young find their own food; female tends young for several weeks. Young fledge about 70 days after hatching.
within 24 hours after hatching, young leave nest; female calls to them from below, young climb to cavity entrance and jump to ground. Young find their own food; female tends young for several weeks. Young fledge about 70 days after hatching.
fish and other aquatic life. Feeds mainly on small fish, crayfish and other crustaceans, and aquatic insects; also some tadpoles, a few mollusks, small amounts of plant material. Young ducklings eat mostly insects at first.
Pairs may form in late fall or winter. In most courtship displays, male's crest is prominently raised and spread. Nest site is in tree cavity near water, usually 10'-50' above ground, rarely up to 80' or more. Also uses artificial nest boxes. Nest of natural wood chips and debris in bottom of cavity, with down added.
Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
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Mostly a short-distance migrant; southerly breeders may be permanent residents. Migration is relatively late in fall and early in spring.
- All Seasons - Common
- All Seasons - Uncommon
- Breeding - Common
- Breeding - Uncommon
- Winter - Common
- Winter - Uncommon
- Migration - Common
- Migration - Uncommon
See a fully interactive migration map for this species on the Bird Migration Explorer.Learn more
Songs and CallsHoarse grunts and chatters.
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How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the Hooded Merganser
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Climate threats facing the Hooded Merganser
Choose a temperature scenario below to see which threats will affect this species as warming increases. The same climate change-driven threats that put birds at risk will affect other wildlife and people, too.