The Hooded Merganser is a distinctively plumaged member of the sawbill group and a native to North America. The drakes are a striking combination of black, white and redish brown. The male’s outstanding feature is the black and white fan shaped crest that gives the bird its name sake. Males use their crest in courtship rituals and displays.
These birds are interesting and entertaining to watch during the breeding season. A court ship display is shown on the right.
A fish eating bird in the wild, Mergansers will need extra protein added to their captive diet. This may easily be accomplished by adding some floating catfish food to their feed. Our birds also enjoy this tossed in the water as an occasional treat
To be successful with this species you will need to provide them with a good quality of water. This is one species that will not do well with a small wading pool that may be adequate for many other ducks.
Hooded Mergansers do not breed until their second year, and the drakes do not acquire their striking alternate plumage until their second fall.
Breeding season is in early spring and they will utilize a Wood Duck style nesting box. Clutches consist of 6-10 eggs and are incubated for about 29 days. We normally only get one clutch of eggs per year from our hens. These ducklings are delicate and can be quite challenging to rear, and are often "wet brooded" which means they are given swimming water from day one.
Because of the special housing and diet needs of this species, along with the difficultly of the young to raise, and the fact that they do not breed until 2 years of year, this is not a species that we would recommend for the beginner.