|Conservation status||May have gone through a serious decline early in the 20th century, but now mostly stable or only slightly declining. Wintering concentrations are vulnerable to oil spills and other pollution.|
|Family||Ducks and Geese|
|Habitat||Ocean surf, salt bays, marinas; in summer, fresh Arctic lakes, tundra. Breeding habitat is near lakes and slow-moving rivers in far north, in sparsely forested or semi-open terrain, sometimes out on open tundra. In winter mostly on ocean in shallow bays or estuaries. Some may winter on Great Lakes, rarely on other bodies of fresh water.|
Forages by diving and swimming underwater, propelled mainly by the feet, with the wings usually half-opened.
5-9, usually about 7. Pale buff. Incubation is by female only, incubation period not known. Young: Leave nest and go to water shortly after hatching. Young are tended by female, but feed themselves. Age of young at first flight not well known.
Leave nest and go to water shortly after hatching. Young are tended by female, but feed themselves. Age of young at first flight not well known.
Mostly mollusks. In addition to mollusks, also feeds on crustaceans, aquatic insects, small fishes, echinoderms, marine worms. Also eats some plant material, mainly pondweeds and sedges. Young eat mostly aquatic insects at first, also mollusks and some plant material, including sedges, pondweeds, and crowberries.
Pairs are formed on winter range. Several males may surround one female in courtship. Displays of male include swimming back and forth rapidly with neck stretched upward, exaggerated bowing, short display flights; males may pursue female underwater. Nest site is often some distance away from water, on ground, well hidden under low tree branches or in dense grass clump. Nest (built by female) is a shallow depression lined with down.
Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
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Migrates in flocks. When migrating overland to coastal wintering areas, usually flies high. Stopovers on lakes inland apparently are mostly for resting, not for feeding.
- 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 CallsA low guttural croaking.
Learn more about this sound collection.