Bird’s ID – Lifer # 235

Hooded Merganser

The hooded merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus) is a species of merganser. It is the only extant species in the genus Lophodytes. The genus name derives from the Greek language: lophos meaning ‘crest’, and dutes meaning ‘diver’. The bird is striking in appearance; both sexes have crests that they can raise or lower, and the breeding plumage of the male is handsomely patterned and coloured. The hooded merganser has a sawbill but is not classified as a typical merganser.

Hooded mergansers are the second-smallest species of merganser, with only the smew of Europe and Asia being smaller, and it also is the only merganser whose native habitat is restricted to North America. 

  • Length: 15.8-19.3 in (40-49 cm)
  • Weight: 16.0-31.0 oz (453-879 g)
  • Wingspan: 23.6-26.0 in (60-66 cm)

Although the hooded merganser is a common species in captivity in Europe and most specimens recorded in the wild are regarded as escapes, a small number of birds have been regarded as genuinely wild vagrants. Britain’s current first accepted record is a bird which was seen on North Uist in October 2000. Small numbers are seen regularly in Dublin, but these are presumed to be escapes.

The hooded merganser is a diving predator that largely hunts by sight while under water. Most studies report that its diet varies according to circumstances, usually being dominated by fish (44-81%). In addition it feeds on aquatic insects (13-20% of its diet) and other aquatic invertebrates such as crabs and crayfish (22-50%).

Photo Gallery

© HJ Ruiz – Avian101

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