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Common Merganser

From Opus

(Redirected from Goosander)
Goosander M. m. merganser, male and femalePhoto © by MacswedeR√•stasj√∂n, Stockholm, Sweden, March 2011
Goosander M. m. merganser, male and female
Photo © by Macswede
Råstasjön, Stockholm, Sweden, March 2011

Alternative name: Goosander

Mergus merganser


[edit] Identification

Common Merganser M. m. americanus, male and female. Note black bar on white wing coverts.Photo © by eastwoodVancouver, British Columbia, Canada, April 2011
Common Merganser M. m. americanus, male and female. Note black bar on white wing coverts.
Photo © by eastwood
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, April 2011

Adult Male

  • Greenish-black head and upper neck
  • White breast, flanks and belly, often tinged salmon-pink.
  • Black back and upperwing coverts; scapulars white with a narrow black edge.
  • Secondaries white; secondary coverts all-white giving a fully white inner wing (Goosander M. m. merganser) or with dark tips making a dark bar across the white (Common Merganser M. m. americanus).
  • Eclipse plumage from June-July to October-November similar to adult female.

Adult Female

  • Red-brown head meets pale breast in crisp line of division.
  • Well-defined white chin.
  • White breast and belly grading to grey flanks.
  • Pale grey body plumage.


  • Similar to adult female, but with white spot or line on lores, giving a 'striped' effect to the face.
Goosander M. m. merganser, juvenile. Note white lores.Photo © by IanFDumfries, Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland, September 2011
Goosander M. m. merganser, juvenile. Note white lores.
Photo © by IanF
Dumfries, Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland, September 2011

[edit] Similar Species

Female may be confused with female Red-breasted Merganser, but shows a distinct division between head and chest. Crest is also less shaggy than in female Red-breasted, and the bill distinctly slenderer.

[edit] Distribution

[edit] Breeding

[edit] Europe

Goosander M. m. merganser, male. Some individuals can be intensely salmon-pink, likely diet-relatedPhoto © by MacswedeStockholm, Sweden, January 2011
Goosander M. m. merganser, male. Some individuals can be intensely salmon-pink, likely diet-related
Photo © by Macswede
Stockholm, Sweden, January 2011

Breeds in Iceland and north and west Britain, throughout Scandinavia and across northern Europe from Poland eastwards. Breeding range slowly expanding west and south in Europe, reaching Germany and the Alps over the last 150 years, Scotland in 1871, northern England in 1941, Wales and Ireland in 1970, and a recent colonist in the Netherlands (where first bred in 1996), the Czech Republic, and northern Greece at Lake Prespa.

[edit] Asia

Breeds across northern Asia to northern China, Sakhalin and occasionally Hokkaido, with a separate population on the Tibetan Plateau.

[edit] North America

Breeds in southeast Alaska and western Canada across the forest zone of central Canada and east to Newfoundland. In the USA breeds in the north-east and around the Great Lakes, and in the west range extends south to northern California, Arizona and New Mexico.

Northern populations are migratory, most others resident or partial migrants, moving to coastal areas close to breeding site. In winter found in southern Britain and northern France east to Poland and in coastal Norway and Sweden. Small numbers also winter in Central Europe, the northern Mediterranean and the Black and Caspian Seas. In the Far East winters from Japan southwards and in North America winters over much of the USA except the north-central states and the Gulf Coast.

Many, if not most, males in the European population leave the females to care for their ducklings in midsummer and fly north to the Varangerfjord in northeast Norway for moulting, before returning in late autumn.

Vagrant to Greenland, the Faroes and Svalbard and south to Portugal and Spain, the Mediterranean islands, north Africa and Israel, also recorded on Bermuda.

[edit] Taxonomy

Goosander M. m. merganser, male in flight. Inner wing white, with no black covert bar.Photo © by the late MahslebColchester, England, February 2009
Goosander M. m. merganser, male in flight. Inner wing white, with no black covert bar.
Photo © by the late Mahsleb
Colchester, England, February 2009

[edit] Subspecies

There are three subspecies[1]:

  • M. m. merganser (Goosander).
Breeds across northern Europe and northern Asia.
  • M. m. comatus (Tibetan Goosander).
Restricted to the Tibetan Plateau in central Asia. Slightly larger and finer-billed than M. m. merganser.
  • M. m. americanus (Common Merganser).
Breeds in North America. It has deeper base to bill and the male has dark bar across bases of median coverts.
In the past, treated as a separate species Mergus americanus by the AOU until 1931, but this has not been recognised more recently by any of the main ornithological authorities[2].

[edit] Habitat

Breeds along rivers and lakeshores in wooded areas, sometimes on moorland, on passage and in winter on large freshwaters, ofen reservoirs and gravel-pits, sometimes estuaries but rarely on the sea.

[edit] Behaviour

The diet includes fish, mussels, shrimps, and aquatic insects.

[edit] Vocalisation

Listen in an external program

[edit] References

  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2017. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2017, with updates to August 2017. Downloaded from
  2. Avibase

[edit] External Links


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