Red-Breasted Merganser

Scientific name: Mergus serrator

Did you know: The Red-Breasted Merganser holds the record for being the fastest duck ever recorded, reaching an astonishing speed of 100 mph!

What Do Red-Breasted Mergansers Look Like? (how to identify them)

Red-Breasted Mergansers are distinctive ducks, known for their slender, serrated bills and spiky crests. Measuring around 50 to 60 cm in length, with a wingspan of around 66 to 74 cm, these birds weigh between 800 and 1,350 grams.

Differences Between Male And Female Red-Breasted Mergansers

The males are particularly striking during breeding season with dark heads featuring a green shine, white necks, rusty breasts, black backs, and white lower bodies. 

Females, in contrast, sport a rusty head with a greyish body. Juveniles resemble the females but do not have white collars and have smaller white wing patches.

What Do Red-Breasted Mergansers Eat?

Predominantly piscivorous, Red-Breasted Mergansers dive underwater to catch small fish. They also consume aquatic insects, worms, crustaceans, and amphibians.

Where Do Red-Breasted Mergansers Live? (inc. migration info)

Red-Breasted Mergansers inhabit freshwater lakes and rivers across the Northern Hemisphere. They migrate yearly from northern breeding sites to coastal wintering areas. They are sociable outside of breeding season, forming flocks often numbering up to 100 individuals.

Bird Calls & Songs (the unique voices of Red-Breasted Mergansers)

These birds are relatively quiet outside courtship periods. The female makes a rasping sound, while the male emits a meowing noise during courtship. The female’s flight call is a harsh gruking sound.

Fun Red-Breasted Merganser Facts (kid friendly)

  • They are known as “sawbill” ducks because of their serrated bills.
  • Red-Breasted Mergansers can swim and even dive underwater to catch their prey.
  • They form large flocks, especially in autumn.
  • These ducks are the fastest recorded, reaching speeds up to 100 miles per hour!
  • They prefer both fresh and saltwater habitats, making them versatile.
  • In winter, they are commonly seen along the UK’s coastline.
  • They nest on the ground, near water in sheltered locations.
  • The diet of these ducks often leads to conflicts with fishermen.

Red-Breasted Merganser Images

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Male
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Female
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Hatchling
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Nestling
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Chick
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Fledgling
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Juvenile

Facts About The Red-Breasted Merganser

Diet: Fish.
Bird Family: Ducks, geese and swans
Length: 52-58cm
Wingspan: 70-86cm
Weight: 900-1,350g
Scientific Name: Mergus serrator

The Red-Breasted Merganser Can Be Seen In The UK During The Following Months

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December