Merganser i.d. help, Northern California Tahoe Area (1 Viewer)


Well-known member
Questioning if this is a common or red-breasted. Taken yesterday 10/01/2006 at Taylor Creek on the south shore of Lake Tahoe.


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Well-known member
Wasn't really birding this time I was taking pictures of the Kokanee Salmon spawning in the creek. Happened upon the Mergansers swimming in the creek. Thought they looked different from the Common Merganser that we see on the lake so often.

Jane Turner

Well-known member
The bird is Mergus meganser - what you call Common Merganser and I call Goosander. Based on back colour, sharpness of head/neck demarkation, bill shape and crest shape.

Here is M. serrator (Red-breasted for comparison).

Hope this helps


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Chris Benesh

So much work, so little let's go birding
Hi All,

Since there is a bit of divergence of opinion, I'll add mine to the fray. I am solidly in the Mergus merganser camp for the reasons mentioned and illustrated by Jane. Probability wise, Common Merganser would be much more likely to be seen in the Sierras than Red-breasted, especially along a river. And in fact, according to this birdlist, Red-breasted is less than annual in that county.


M Cowming

Well-known member
Juvenile Common Merganser (Goosander). Note the whitish facial markings along with as others have said, white throat patch and sharp border between rufous and grey on the neck. Bill shape also favours Mergus merganser.


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