Click on the language to view common names.
Common Names in Dutch:
Common Names in English:
Common Merganser, American goosander, American merganser, American sheldrake, big sheldrake, break horn, buff-breasted merganser, buff-breasted sheldrake, dun diver, fish duck, fishing duck, freshwater sheldrake, Goosander, greater merganser, morocco-head, pond sheldrake, sawbill, winter sheldrake
Common Names in French:
grand harle, Harle bièvre
Common Names in German:
Common Names in Hebrew:
Common Names in Italian:
Common Names in Japanese:
Common Names in Russian:
Bolshoy Krokhal, Большой крохаль, Крохаль большой
Common Names in Spanish:
Mergo mayor, Serreta grande
Common Names in Swedish:
male: Greenish-black head
and upper neck · White breast,
flanks and belly · Black back and upperwing coverts with white
· White secondary coverts crossed with indistinct
· Alternate plumage worn from fall
summer · Male in basic eclipse plumage similar to adult female
Adult female: Red-brown head meets pale breast in crisp line of division · Well-defined white chin · White breast and belly · Pale gray body plumage
About 18 to 27 inches long, with a wingspan of 31 to 37 inches.
Usually seen in brackish marshes and freshwater ponds , rarely in salt water.
Vegetation: rivers • Minimum Elevation: 1,900 meters • Maximum Elevation: 1,900 meters • Foraging Strata: Water • Center of Abundance: Upper subtropical: higher slopes, 500-1,600 m.; subtropics. • Sensitivity to Disturbance: Medium
Typically found in a lake at a mean distance from sea level of 486.76 meters (1,596.98 feet).
Behaviour Northern breeding populations of this species are
fully migratory6 although breeders in temperate
regions are sedentary
or only travel short distances1, 5.
The species arrives on its breeding areas between March and May5,
actually breeding as early as late-March (although often considerably
later in more northerly regions)3. It breeds
solitary pairs or loose
groups1 of up to 8-10 individuals7
(especially on islands that provide suitable nesting sites in lacustrine
or coastal locations)4. The males gather to moult
after mating, often undertaking considerable moult migrations to
flock on key
waters3. Females also undergo a post-breeding
moult on the breeding grounds
during which they become flightless
for around 1 month4. The main migration to wintering
areas largely occurs from October through to December5,
mass departures being linked to the freezing of breeding and moulting
areas6. Outside of the breeding season
is typically found in small parties, with groups of up to 70 individuals
feeding together on shoals
of fish during the winter2.
Large flocks may also form on roosting waters3,
the largest gatherings occurring during the autumn migration and
winter months and numbering up to several thousands of individuals3
(1,000 to 10,000 on suitable waters)6. On passage
in the spring
flocks are usually small however, breeding pairs remaining
in flocks until they reach the breeding grounds6.
Habitat Breeding The species breeds on large clear
lakes1, 2, pools1,
the upper reaches
of rivers1, 2 and streams2
in the boreal, montane2 and temperate forest zones4.
It requires waters with a fairly high productivity
surrounded by mature
or natural cavities for nesting in2. Non-breeding
The species winters on large unfrozen lakes
waters and marshes1, 3, generally avoiding highly
saline waters3 although it may move to estuaries,
coastal lagoons and sheltered sea
coasts with waters less than 10
deep in particularly harsh
consists predominantly of fish1 less than
10 cm long2, but may also include aquatic
(such as molluscs
, crustaceans, worms, and adult
and larval insects),
, small mammals and birds1. Breeding
site The species nests in holes excavated by large woodpeckers
or natural cavities in mature hardwood trees1, 2
with entry holes more than 15 m above the ground2.
It shows a preference for cavities with openings c.12 cm wide and
internal diameters of c.25 cm4 in trees close to
or up to 1 km
away from water6. When natural tree-nesting
sites are not available4 the species will use artificial
nestboxes1, 2 or may nest
among tree roots in undercut
banks, on cliff
ledges2, in rock clefts7
or in dense scrub
or loose boulders on islands2.
Sometimes several females may nest in the same tree3,
especially on islands that provide suitable nesting sites in lacustrine
or coastal locations4. Management
Artificial nestboxes commonly used are 85-100 cm high with openings
50-60 cm from the base4.
List of Habitats :
- 1 Forest
- 1.1 Forest - Boreal
- 1.4 Forest - Temperate
- 5 Wetlands (inland)
- 5.1 Wetlands (inland) - Permanent Rivers/Streams/Creeks (includes waterfalls )
- 5.5 Wetlands (inland) - Permanent Freshwater Lakes (over 8ha)
- 5.14 Wetlands (inland) - Permanent Saline, Brackish or Alkaline Lakes
- 9 Marine Neritic
- 9.2 Marine Neritic - Subtidal Rock and Rocky Reefs
- 9.3 Marine Neritic - Subtidal Loose Rock/pebble/gravel
- 9.4 Marine Neritic - Subtidal Sandy
- 9.5 Marine Neritic - Subtidal Sandy-Mud
- 9.7 Marine Neritic - Macroalgal/Kelp
- 9.9 Marine Neritic - Seagrass (Submerged)
- 9.10 Marine Neritic - Estuaries [more info]
Mostly: Fish. Lesser Quantities of: Aquatic Invertebrates
- Breeding Habitat : Wetland-open water
- Nest Type : Cavity
- Clutch Size: 6-17
- Length of Incubation : 28-35 days
- Days to Fledge : 65-85
- Number of Broods: 1
- Whittaker & Margulis,1978
- C. Linnaeus, 1758
- (Hatschek, 1888) Cavalier-Smith, 1983
- Grobben, 1908
- (Haeckel, 1874) Cavalier-Smith, 1998
- Bateson, 1885
- Cuvier, 1812
- Jawed Vertebrates
- Goodrich, 1930
- Linnaeus, 1758
- Gauthier, 1986
- (C. Linnaeus, 1758)
- Pycraft, 1900
- Sibley et al., 1988
- Wagler, 1831
- Suborder: Anseres () - (C. Linnaeus, 1758) Wagler, 1831
- Order: Anseriformes () - Wagler, 1831
- Superorder: Galloanserimorphae () - Sibley et al., 1988
- Cohort: Neognathae () - Pycraft, 1900
- Infraclass: Aves () - (C. Linnaeus, 1758)
- Subclass: Avialae () - Gauthier, 1986
- Class: Aves () - Linnaeus, 1758
- Superclass: Tetrapoda () - Goodrich, 1930
- Infraphylum: Gnathostomata () - auct. - Jawed Vertebrates
- Subphylum: Vertebrata () - Cuvier, 1812 - Vertebrates
- Phylum: Chordata () - Bateson, 1885 - Chordates
- Infrakingdom: Chordonia () - (Haeckel, 1874) Cavalier-Smith, 1998
- Branch: Deuterostomia () - Grobben, 1908
- Subkingdom: Bilateria () - (Hatschek, 1888) Cavalier-Smith, 1983
- Kingdom: Animalia () - C. Linnaeus, 1758 - animals
Status: Accepted Name
Last scrutiny: 23-Jan-2007
Members of the genus Mergus
ZipcodeZoo has pages for 12 species and subspecies in this genus:
M. albellus (Zwergsaeger) · (Auckland Islands Merganser) · M. cucullatus (Hooded Merganser) · (Common Merganser) · (Common Merganser (North American)) · (Common Merganser (Eurasian)) · (Brazilian Merganser) · (Red-Breasted Merganser) · M. serrator linnaeus (Red-Breasted Merganser) · M. serrator schioleri (Red-Breasted Merganser) · M. serrator serrator (Red-Breasted Merganser) · (Scaly-Sided Merganser)
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Accessed through GBIF Data Portal December 06, 2007:
- Biologiezentrum der Oberoesterreichischen Landesmuseen, Biologiezentrum Linz
- Canadian Biodiversity Information Facility, North West Territories and Nunavut Bird Checklist, Canada
- Canadian Biodiversity Information Facility, Ontario Nest Records
- Canadian Biodiversity Information Facility, Provincial Museum of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada. Birds
- Canadian Biodiversity Information Facility, Royal British Columbia Museum
- Marine Science Institute, UCSB, Paleobiology Database
- New Brunswick Museum, NBM birds
- Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, Santa Barbara Musem of Natural History
- UK National Biodiversity Network, Scottish Borders Biological Records Centre - SWT Scottish Borders Local Wildlife Site Survey data 1996-2000 - species information
- University of Michigan Museum of Zoology
- , Bird specimens
- Upper Silesian Museum, Bytom, Upper Silesian Museum, Bird Observations
- Biodiversity Heritage Library NamebankID: 11766
- Catalogue of Life Accepted Name Code: ITS-714746
- Global Biodiversity Information Facility Taxonkey: 2481187
- Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) Taxonomic Serial Number (TSN): 175185
- IUCN ID: 222791
- Natural Heritage Network Species Identifier: ABNJB21010
- Zipcode Zoo Species Identifier: 6872
- Standard Deviation = 572.530 based on 18,527 observations. Altitude information for each observation from British Oceanographic Data Centre. [back]
- BirdLife International 2009. Mergus merganser. In: IUCN 2011. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 02 February 2012. [back]