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The Ivory Bill·Birds·Ducks & Grebes

Hooded mergansers, Lophodytes cucullatus

Hooded mergansers in a lake among sunken logs

Hooded mergansers are diving ducks. They hunt underwater using their sharp bills to catch small fish and aquatic invertebrates. They also consume crustaceans, amphibians, insects, and other small aquatic organisms.

Both male and female hooded mergansers have striking fan-shaped black and white crests on their heads, which can be raised or lowered.

Hooded mergansers commonly nest in forested areas near freshwater bodies such as swamps, marshes, ponds, and slow-moving streams across North America, including the United States and Canada. Female mergansers build their nests in tree cavities or use abandoned nests of other birds. They line the nest with soft materials such as down feathers. They will also nest in artificially made duck boxes.  Hooded Merganser Duck Box Plans.

Female mergansers lay a clutch of 6-15 eggs and incubation period ranges from 29 to 37 days. The mother leads her ducklings to water shortly after they hatch. Young mergansers are capable of diving and swimming shortly after hatching.

Hooded mergansers migrate within their range to various regions of North America during the winter months.
They typically inhabit coastal areas, estuaries, lakes, and large rivers during this time. Hooded mergansers are known to tolerate ice-free areas, where they can find open water for foraging.

Hobbyist-naturalists who provide duck boxes using advanced management methods have achieved greatly reduced duckling mortality rates, compared to naturally chosen cavities that are much more vulnerable to predators. See Duck Boxes Here