Hooded Merganser

Lophodytes cucullatus




Ducks, Geese and Swans (Anatidae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:


Number of Eggs:

6 - 18

Incubation Days:

32 - 33

Egg Incubator:


Nest Location:

Usually near water, in a tree or rock cavity, 10 to 20 feet above ground.

Nest Material:

Lined with down and wood chips in base of cavity.





Hooded Merganser: A small merganser with a black head, neck and back; white underparts with two black bars on side of breast; red-brown flanks. Distinct crest shows large white patch when raised and white stripe extending backwards from eye when lowered; bright yellow eyes; dark gray bill. Wings are dark with white shoulder patches. Female has bushy brown crest, gray upper breast and flanks, white markings on wings, dull yellow eyes. Upper bill is dark brown; dark yellow lower bill. Juvenile similar to female; may lack crest; darker eyes.

Range and Habitat

Hooded Merganser: Breeds from northern British Columbia to the Pacific Northwest and central-eastern Canada to New England, the Great Lakes, and the Ohio River Valley. Winters south to Baja and the Gulf Coast states. Preferred habitats include small forest pools, millponds, swamps, and beaver ponds.

Breeding and Nesting

Hooded Merganser: These mergansers are monogamous. Pair formation is from November through January. Six to eighteen white eggs are laid in a hollow tree, stump or other natural cavity lined with down. The nest is usually near water and 10 to 20 feet above the ground. Incubation ranges from 32 to 33 days, and is carried out by the female. Once the female begins to incubate, the male abandons her.

Foraging and Feeding

Hooded Merganser: Their diet primarily includes aquatic insects, fish and crustaceans, especially crayfish. They also feed on snails, frogs, aquatic plants and seeds. They forage underwater in bouts consisting of multiple dives separated by short pauses on the surface, and proceed to capture fish with a serrated and hooked bill.


Hooded Merganser: Utters hoarse grunts and chatters. Displaying male gives rolling, frog-like "crrrroooo."

Similar Species

Hooded Merganser: Bufflehead has smaller bill, dark eyes, and lacks black breast bars and black border on the white head patch.


Belly, undertail coverts, chest, flanks, and foreneck.

The upper front part of a bird.
Tufts of feathers on the head of the bird.
The short feathers overlying the median secondary coverts on the top of the wing. They are located near the back and can be seen as the “first row” of feathers on the birds wing. They are also called marginal coverts and lesser secondary coverts.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X