Red-breasted Merganser

Waterfowl Identification

The Red-breasted Merganser, Mergus serrator, drake has a green head with a distinctive spiky green crest. Its bill is long, narrow and red. Its eyes are red, the neck collar is white and the chest is reddish brown. It has a black back and a white belly. The hen has a brown head with a long brownish crest. Her body is gray. Red-breasted Mergansers are large in size and have a long slender appearance in flight.
Image comparing drake and hen/UISFWS

These birds winter most abundantly in coastal waters, including the Gulf of Mexico, and to a lesser extent, the Great Lakes. Their flight, strong and direct, is usually low over the water. They are difficult to distinguish in flight from the common merganser.

Length: 23"
Weight: 2 1/2lbs.

Image comparing fulvous and Black-bellied whistling ducks wings/USFWS


 Distribution Map

Similar Species

In Flight
In flight illustration/USFWS In flight illustration/USFWS In flight illustration/USFWS

Voice: Seldom heard.

Last Updated: November 14, 2018