Rosamond Gifford Zoo

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Hooded Merganser

Lophodytes Culcullatus

The hooded merganser is also called the “fish duck” because of the large amounts of fish it consumes. It is distinguished by its long black bill and the lavish crest of feathers - or hood -- on its head.

Range & Habitat

Hooded Mergansers live in forested wetlands throughout the eastern half of North America and the Pacific Northwest.

Conservation Status: Least Concern

Diet

In The Wild:  small fish, aquatic insects, crustaceans (especially crayfish), amphibians, vegetation and mollusks

In Human Care: humanely sourced smelt and silversides, krill and waterfowl pellets.

 

Life Span

In the Wild: 10-11 years
In Human Care: Up to 14 years

Fun Facts about the Hooded Merganser

  •  Females often lay their egg clutches (averaging 13 eggs) in tree cavities as high as 50 feet off the ground. The eggs hatch 26-41 days after being laid. Hatchlings leave the nest within 24 hours by jumping to the ground and walking as much as a mile together to find water.
  •  Mergansers are the only ducks that specialize in eating fish. They have a third “eyelid” that acts like a goggle to help them see prey underwater.
  •  In the spring, male hooded mergansers do a complex courtship display to impress females. They tip their heads back, fan out their crest and make a croaking sound.

 

 

Sources

Updated March 25, 2021
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