RED-BREASTED MERGANSER


Mergus serrator


Description:

These fascinating birds are found almost exclusively on saltwater during winter. Often seen feeding alone, the Red-Breasted Merganser feeds mainly on fish, which it catches in swift underwater dives.


Appearance:

General: 21-25 inches in length.

Male: Dark green head with shaggy crest. Red eye. Bright orange-red bill, legs and feet. Bill is long, thin, pointed, and has serrated edges. White collar around neck. Reddish breast with dark streaks/spots. Black back. Grayish flanks, tail, rump and uppertail coverts. Alternate plumage worn fall through early summer. The males basic (eclipse) plumage is similar to adult female. Immatures are similar to adult female.

Female: Rusty-brown head with shaggy crest. Red eye. Bill, legs, and feet are similar to male. White breast and belly. Grayish body.


Habitat:

Coastal water and bays.


Nesting:

8-10 olive-buff eggs. The eggs have a 29-35 day incubation period. Fledging occurs in 59 days. The nest is a down lined ground depression, usualy concealed under a bush or in a brush pile.


Observed Locations:

  • San Diego Bay





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Copyright © Scott Streit, 2000.