Hooded Merganser

Lophodytes cucullatus
Hooded mergansers have a large crest/Photo Courtesy of Dr. Madeline Kalbach

The Hooded merganser is the smallest of the three North American mergansers, and is uncommon in our area and breeds at the Refuge.  It is generally seen on ponds, or fresh to brackish backwaters in the refuge. Its habitat preference is for forested wetlands. The Hooded merganser dives for small fish, crustaceans and aquatic insects that it finds by sight. The nictating membrane or third eyelid is clear and acts like a pair of goggles protecting the eye underwater as it searches for prey.  The male has a large white crest encircled by black, while the female’s head is gray-brown with a reddish crest.

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Facts About Hooded Merganser

Good swimmer, awkward on land

Can see underwater

Males display call sounds like it is snoring loudly

Nests in tree cavities