Common Name

Hooded Merganser

Species Name

Lophodytes cucullatus

©2007 Don Enright

©2006 Don Enright


40-49 cm length | 60-66 cm wingspan | 450-880 g weight 

A small diving duck, the Hooded Merganser is the second smallest merganser next to the Smew of Europe and Asia. They have relatively long, broad tail, an expandable head crest (like a mowhawk of feathers) and a long, serrated bill. The Hooded Merganser is more closely related to the Goldeneyes than they are to the two larger merganser species (Common and Red-breasted). 

The male has a black head with a large, white, wedge-shaped patch behind the eye, a black breast marked with thick white bands, a black back with a few white stripes near the tail and chestnut sides. The female is brown with a white underside, a light reddish-brown crest and brown eyes. Her bill is yellow or orange at the base. The male in non-breeding plumage and young males look similar to the female but he maintains his yellow eyes and develops a black bill by spring. 

Habitat / Behaviour

Piscivore | Wetlands, ponds | Year-round in Vancouver (uncommon breeder) 

The Hooded Merganser dives under the water, hunting small fish, crustaceans and aquatic insects by sight. 


Monogamous | Secondary cavity nester | 10-12 white eggs | 1 brood per year

Like wood ducks and goldeneyes, Hooded Mergansers use the nesting holes previously made by woodpeckers. They are also known to be brood parasites and sometimes lay their eggs in the nests of wood ducks.