Common Merganser (Mergus merganser)

Common Merganser(Mergus merganser) Pair

The Common Merganser (Mergus merganser), also called the Buff-breasted Merganser (by John James Audubon), American Merganser and Sawbill, is a bird in the Swans, Geese Ducks Family (Anatidae) of the order Anseriformes. The genus name is Latin for "diving waterfowl."  "Anser" is Latin for "goose." Therefore, the species name means a "goose that dives." This designation is appropriate because the Common Merganser eats fish and will dive to acquire them. The photograph of a Common Merganser pair above was taken on French Hill Pond in April of 2013.

Both male and female Common Mergansers are from about 23 to 28 inches (58 to 72 centimeters) long with a wingspan of about a yard (91 centimeters). They can weigh up to about five pounds (2.3 kilograms). The female Common Merganser has a light gray body, brown head and white throat. The male has bright white body and sides, black back, gray tail and a black to iridescent green head. The male's long bill is reddish. Both sexes have serrated edges on their bills to hold slippery fish and erect crests on their heads. They tend to keep the crest back and smooth but the female is more likely to display the crest.

The nests consists of a down-lined cavity in a tree, abandoned nest or hole in a cliff or hillside. The female will lay about a dozen, white to yellow eggs. The ducklings begin to eat freshwater invertebrates and small fish immediately after hatching. Common Merganser ducklings become independent after about two months but do not sexually mature for two years. They may also be found on saltwater.

Their vocalization is a croaking sound as opposed to a quack.


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