Hear How the Male Hooded Merganser Courts a Female

Different croaks for different folks.

This audio story is brought to you by BirdNote, a partner of The National Audubon Society. BirdNote episodes air daily on public radio stations nationwide.

Episode Transcript

With a voice that sounds more like a frog than a bird, a male Hooded Merganser is courting a female. 

Picture a small duck with chestnut sides, a black back, and a white breast striped with black. As he displays to the rust-colored female, he fans his crown feathers into an extravagant, circular crest, white with black outlining. Next he tips his head, fully fanned, all the way back until it touches his back, as he lets out another sexy croak.

And this is just one of his fancy courtship moves.

Hooded Mergansers, affectionately known as “Hoodies,” nest across most of the northern states and well into Canada. They’re especially prevalent around the Great Lakes, though some winter as far south as Florida. By November each year, courtship and pair formation are well under way. And by early spring, these Hoodies will seek out secluded woodland ponds, where they nest in tree cavities or manmade nest boxes. 

Females lay 10 or more eggs. That’s not unusual for a duck. But what is unusual is that the eggs are nearly spherical, with surprisingly thick shells. Ideally suited to the Hooded Merganser’s nest of choice – a cavity or a hole. 

For BirdNote, I’m Mary McCann.



Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. 163898 recorded by Steve N. G Howell. 

Male Hooded Merganser courtship call recorded by Oliver H. Hewitt: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Hooded_Merganser/sounds

BirdNote’s theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.

Producer: John Kessler

Executive Producer: Sallie Bodie

Narrator: Mary McCann

© 2017 Tune In to Nature.org     January 2017        


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