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Hooded merganser

Lophodytes cucullatus
A male hooded merganser in the  Cascade Stream and Pond aviary.

Hooded mergansers are small fish-eating ducks or 'sawbills' native to North America.

Hooded merganser behavior and facts

  • Male hooded mergansers are named for the crest of feathers on the back of their heads, which can be expanded or contracted.
  • The female hooded merganser has a brown body with a light brown crest extending from the back of the head.
  • Males look similar during non-breeding season.During breeding season the males coloring changes; the head and neck become black and the crest on the back of its head turns white.
  • Hooded mergansers, like all mergansers, have serrated bills adapted for catching fish. They also eat insects and crustaceans.

Life history

  • Hooded mergansers usually breed in swamps or forested pond areas of the northern U.S. and southern Canada.
  • They prefer to nest in tree cavities near water.
  • Males leave their mates as soon as the eggs are laid, leaving the female to incubate them on her own.
  • Hooded merganser chicks can dive and feed themselves within 24 hours of hatching.


IUCN Least concern

Hooded mergansers, the Oregon Zoo and you

The zoo's hooded mergansers live in the Cascade Stream and Pond aviary.