10 Interesting Facts about the Hooded Merganser | Withme Photography Blog

Hooded Mergansers are the darnedest looking thing. I remember the first time that I saw a pair swimming in a pond. I had no idea what the strange looking bird was. Now that I know, I’d love to see more of them as they make great photography subjects.

Here is some of the trivia I have gathered about the Hooded Merganser.

  • The Hooded Merganser is the smallest of the three species of mergansers found in North America.
  • The Hooded Merganser is the only Merganser whose native habitat is restricted to North America.
  • Hooded Mergansers feed by diving and swimming under water to collect small fish, crustaceans and aquatic insects.
  • The Hooded Merganser finds its prey underwater by sight. The nictating membrane (third eyelid) is clear and acts to protect the eye during swimming, just like a pair of goggles.
  • The Hooded Merganser’s preferred habitat for breeding is in swamps and wooded ponds.
  • Hooded Mergansers prefer to nest in tree cavities near water, but will use Wood Duck nesting boxes if available and unoccupied.
  • Hooded Mergansers form pairs in early winter. The male leaves the female soon after she lays her eggs, leaving her responsible for all incubation.
  • After hatching, Hooded Merganser chicks leave the nest with their mother within 24 hours. They are already able to dive and feed themselves. They will remain with their mother for another five weeks.
  • Hooded Mergansers are short-distance migrants, and winter wherever ponds, lakes and rivers remain free of ice
  • Hooded Mergansers are extremely agile swimmers and divers but clumsy when moving on land because their legs are set far back on the body.

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