Fun Merganser Duck Facts For Kids

Divya Raghav
Aug 31, 2023 By Divya Raghav
Originally Published on Oct 05, 2021
Here are some great merganser duck facts which you are sure to love!
Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.2 Min

Merganser ducks refer to several waterfowl species which can be found in Europe, Asia, and America. These ducks are mostly pescatarian in nature, diving for and eating fish.

There are a number of species of merganser ducks, however typical mergansers come underneath the genus Mergus, which contains five species, one of them being extinct.

Out of these, common mergansers are the most widely known and can be found living in lakes, rivers, or near the coast. This may be because they eat a lot of fish and other aquatic life as food.

To find out more about merganser ducks, read on! You can also find more great facts on our common merganser and hooded merganser pages.

Merganser Duck Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a merganser duck?

Merganser ducks are a type of waterfowl.

What class of animal does a merganser duck belong to?

Merganser ducks belong to the class of Aves.

How many merganser ducks are there in the world?

As there are a few species of merganser ducks, the exact number of individuals worldwide cannot be accounted for.

Where does a merganser duck live?

Various species of merganser ducks can be found in the inland waters of North America, Europe, and Asia, mostly in rivers and lakes.

What is a merganser duck's habitat?

Common mergansers can usually be found near coastal waters or in inland rivers and lakes.

Who do merganser ducks live with?

These ducks can be found living together in flocks near rivers and lakes, some of them having up to 75 individuals at a time! Common merganser ducks have also been noticed to form creches, where a single merganser duck female takes care of over 70 ducklings at a time.

How long does a merganser duck live?

The lifespan of the hooded merganser duck has been observed to be around 11-14 years in the wild, and it is assumed that the same can be said for all other merganser duck species.

How do they reproduce?

Common mergansers court each other with elaborate swimming displays. They form mated pairs which last for the whole breeding period, however, these may span over a number of seasons as well.

The pairs build their nests in hollow tree cavities, cliffs, or banks away from the water, mostly in forested areas. The female usually lays between 6-13 yellow speckled eggs, these eggs are then incubated for a period of 30-35 days.

Post hatching of the eggs, the ducklings stay with the mother for 60-70 days, after which they leave the nest. Merganser ducks mature at around two years of age.

What is their conservation status?

There are currently five known species of merganser duck, out of these, only the common merganser and red-breasted merganser duck are of Least Concern. In general, mergansers are not a rare sight.

Although the New Zealand merganser duck is extinct in the wild, the other two are Critically Endangered in nature. The hooded merganser duck of the Lophodytes genus is also of Least Concern in the wild.

Merganser Duck Fun Facts

What do merganser ducks look like?

When it comes to describing the common merganser duck, it has a crest with long head feathers, as well as a smooth round head. Males and females look different, with adult males having breeding plumage of white with a pink tinge, black head with a green sheen, and a gray rump and tail.

The female is gray with a reddish head, white chin, and large white patches on the wing.

The juvenile merganser duck looks similar to the female but has a black stripe between the eye and the bill. The bill and beak are bright red.

Hooded merganser duck in the water.

How cute are they?

Like all other ducks, they are cute. Merganser ducks come in a variety of colors and patterns, which makes them quite interesting to look at.

How do they communicate?

Though common mergansers are quite silent most of the time, they do have a number of calls which they use in various circumstances. Nesting females usually give a 'cro-cro-cro' sound to call their ducklings to them and have a harsh 'gruk' sound when they feel threatened by predators.

A male merganser duck call is hoarse and deep which is used when they are caught off guard. They even have a chiming bell-like call which they use while courting females.

How big is a merganser duck?

The common merganser duck measures around 22.8-28.3 in (58–72 cm) in length, and has a wingspan of around 30.7-38.2 in (78–97 cm). Males are slightly larger than females. The hooded merganser duck is the second smallest merganser duck, measuring around 15.7-19.3 in (40-49 cm).

How fast can a merganser duck move?

The red-breasted merganser duck is among one of the fastest flying ducks in existence, its speed being recording as around 81 mph (130 kph). They can swim this efficiently.

How much does a merganser duck weigh?

Common mergansers weigh between a range of 2–4.6 lb (0.9–2.1 kg) on average, with males weighing slightly more than females due to their larger size.

What are the male and female names of the species?

Male merganser ducks as known as drakes, whereas females are simply known as female merganser ducks.

What would you call a baby merganser duck?

Baby merganser ducks are called ducklings.

What do they eat?

Common mergansers are carnivorous in nature, and mostly eat fish as food. Apart from fish, their food also includes other aquatic organisms such as mussels, mollusks, worms, frogs, crabs, and shrimps.

They have serrated beaks edges on their bills which help them to grip their prey, earning them the name 'sawbills'. In order to catch their prey, mergansers dive into the water in order to hunt small fish with their bill.

Are they dangerous?

No, common mergansers are not dangerous if left alone. However, large flocks may attack if approached, as they are quite wary of intruders and will certainly react to any signs of danger.

They have a harsh alarm call when faced with danger which is sure to attract other ducks, so it's best to stay away from them and not approach them while in their natural habitat!

Would they make a good pet?

No, being wild birds these ducks would not make good pets. They are usually found in large flocks and are very sociable in nature, meaning that it would not be a good idea to separate them and then tame them.

You can definitely make space for them in your garden as occasional visitors, but it is best to leave them alone.

Did you know...

The Smew (Mergellus albellus) is the smallest type of merganser duck, with the hooded merganser being the second smallest.

Eating merganser duck as food requires an acquired taste, as they have a strong, unique taste due to all the fish that they consume.

Most merganser ducks are resident, and few travel locally during the winter.

Common merganser ducks can stay underwater for up to two minutes! This is useful for them while hunting for prey.

Different types of merganser duck

There are many species of merganser duck. There are five species in the genus Mergus which are the common merganser (Mergus merganser), red-breasted merganser (Mergus serrator), scaly sided merganser (Mergus squamatus), Brazilian merganser (Mergus octosetaceus), and the extinct New Zealand merganser (Mergus australis).

The hooded merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus) has its own species Lophodytes, of which it is the only member.

Where do mergansers migrate to and from?

Speaking of the common merganser, it is partially migratory. Most populations are resident, however, a few populations move from colder areas to slightly warmer ones during the winter.

For example, the Eastern American birds move further south in North America, to the United States. The populations of Japan and Europe are resident, with Russian and Scandinavian birds moving southwards during the winter. The hooded merganser duck is partially migratory as well, with its native habitat being restricted to North America, and it moves southwards during the winter.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds including fulvous whistling duck facts, or harlequin duck facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable wood duck coloring pages.

Main image by Åsa Berndtsson.

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Written by Divya Raghav

Bachelor of Commerce specializing in Accounting and Finance, Master of Business Administration

Divya Raghav picture

Divya RaghavBachelor of Commerce specializing in Accounting and Finance, Master of Business Administration

With a diverse range of experience in finance, administration, and operations, Divya is a diligent worker known for her attention to detail. Born and raised in Bangalore, she completed her Bachelor's in Commerce from Christ University and is now pursuing an MBA at Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies, Bangalore. Along with her professional pursuits, Divya has a passion for baking, dancing, and writing content. She is also an avid animal lover who dedicates her time to volunteering for animal welfare causes.

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