"Hooded Mergansers" have a crest at the back of their heads, which can be expanded or contracted. Males have blackish heads and bodies set off by rusty flanks, and a white breast with two black stripes on the sides. They have slender, pointed "sawbills." Eyes are yellow.
The adult female has a reddish crest, with much of the rest of the head and body a greyish-brown. Her eyes are also reddish.
The smallest of diving ducks, the "Hooded Merganser" when startled, is among the fastest flying ducks.
Their breeding habitat are the swamps and wooded ponds in the northern half of the United States and southern Canada. They form pairs in early winter. The male leaves the female soon after she lays her eggs, leaving her responsible for all incubation.
Calls or song.
The "Hooded Merganser" call is a series of hoarse grunts and chatters.
Population and distribution.
"Hooded Mergansers" are short distance migrants and winter in the United States wherever winter temperatures allow for ice free conditions on ponds, lakes and rivers and estuaries.
They prefer to nest in tree cavities near water but will use Wood Duck nesting boxes if available and unoccupied. The female merganser fashions a nest of down in which she lays 8-12 white eggs. After hatching, chicks leave the nest with their mother within 24 hours; they are already able to dive and feed themselves, although they remain with their mother for another five weeks.