Wildlife Journal Junior!
New Hampshire PBS

Home       |       Wild Files       |       N.H. Animals       |       Animals A-Z       |       Watch Online

Hooded Merganser - Lophodytes cucullatus



 Kingdom: Animalia
 Phylum: Chordata
 Class: Aves
 Order: Anseriformes
 Family: Anatidae
 Genus: Lophodytes
ICUN Redlist - World Status: Least ConcernLeast Concern


Hooded MerganserThe hooded merganser is a small diving duck with a long, pointed bill. The female hooded merganser has brown eyes, a reddish crest, and grayish-brown feathers.

Hooded MerganserThe adult male hooded merganser has a white fan-shaped crest on his head. He has bright yellow eyes, a black head, a white chest with two black stripes, a brownish-black back, rust-colored sides, and a grayish-brown rump and tail.


mapThe hooded merganser breeds from  southern Alaska south to Oregon and Montana and from Manitoba and Nova Scotia, Canada south throughout much of the eastern United States. It winters near coasts from British Columbia south to California and from New England south to Florida and Texas.


The hooded merganser breeds on wooded ponds, lakes, and rivers and winters in these areas as well as on estuaries and inlets.


Hooded MerganserThe hooded merganser feeds during the day. It dives and forages on lake, river, and pond bottoms for fish, crayfish, and other crustaceans. It also eats aquatic insects and some aquatic plants.

Life Cycle

Hooded MerganserBreeding season runs from March to May. Males court females in small flocks. The male raises his crest to attract a female, turns the back of his head towards her, and flaps his wings. The female points her bill to the sky and bobs her head up and down.

The female lays 6-12 eggs in a nest in a tree hole or in a log. The nest is lined with whatever is in the hole including woodchips, leaves, and other debris, and then it is lined with down. The male leaves the female once incubation begins. The eggs hatch in about a month. The day after the ducklings are born, the female leads them to water. They fledge in about 70 days.


The hooded merganser usually gathers in small groups of no more than 10 or 12 individuals. When they are startled, they fly away. They are one of the fastest flying ducks.

Audio Credit: xeno-canto.org Todd Wilson cc logo