The Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator) is a medium-sized diving duck found throughout the northern hemisphere. Adults can reach a length of 20-26 inches and weigh between 1.5 and 2.5 pounds. The males and females of this species look different from each other. The male has a dark green head with a white neck, a black back, and a red breast. The female has a brownish-gray head and neck, a gray body, and a rusty-red head with a tufted crest.
The Red-breasted Merganser breeds in northern regions and migrates south during the winter months. They are found along both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of North America, as well as in Europe and Asia. They typically spend the winter along the coastlines, but can also be found on inland waters.
During the breeding season, Red-breasted Mergansers can be found on small freshwater lakes and ponds, as well as along coastal areas. They nest in ground scrapes or in cavities in trees. Females lay between 6-10 eggs, which are incubated for about a month.
One of the distinguishing characteristics of the Red-breasted Merganser is their serrated bill, which helps them catch and hold onto slippery fish. They are powerful divers and can stay underwater for up to a minute as they search for their prey. In addition to fish, they also eat crustaceans and aquatic insects.
Red-breasted Mergansers are a popular game bird and are hunted throughout their range. However, their populations are stable, and they are not considered a conservation concern at this time. If you are lucky enough to spot a Red-breasted Merganser in the wild, you will be treated to a beautiful sight as they gracefully swim and dive through the water.