Scientific Name: Lophodytes cucullatus
Diet: The Hooded Merganser eats small fish, aquatic insects, some aquatic plants, frogs, insect larvae, and crustaceans,particularly crayfish.
Habitat: Hooded Mergansers live in wetlands. In the winter they can be found in coastal bays, marshes, and inlets. During the breeding season they prefer vegetated wetlands. Hooded Mergansers live in slow-moving rivers, lakes, ponds, and marshes. They live in salt water, but generally prefer freshwater.
Range: Hooded Mergansers can be found in most of Washington year-round, but in the upper-right corner they are only present during the summer, and they don’t live in the lower-right corner at all. In the U.S. they can be found almost every where at some point in the year except in the south-western corner.
Sound: The Hooded Merganser’s call is a slow croaking that descends in pitch. They also make a high-pitched, quick, whistling noise.
Nesting: The Hooded Merganser is a cavity nester. It nests in a natural cavity in a tree or nesting box. Hooded Mergansers nest from 10 to 50 feet up. The nest is made of materials that are found in the cavity, and lined with down. The female lays 8 to 12 eggs, and incubates them for anywhere from 26 to 41 days. An important part of the young Hooded Mergansers’ diet is insects.
Behavior: Hooded Mergansers dive for their prey. They have underwater vision, which helps them to forage underwater.
Description/field marks: Hooded Mergansers are about 16 to 19 inches long, and have wingspans of about 24 to 26 inches. The males have large, white, fan-shaped crests that they can spread out, or fold down. The males also have white breasts and stripes on their sides. They have black faces, necks, backs, and tails. Their sides are brown, and their undersides are creamy white. The females are much duller. They have greyish brown bodies and heads, and redish brown, small, pointed crests. The females’ eyes are brown, and the males’ are yellow.