The Common Merganser bird, also known as the Goosander, is a large and striking waterfowl species that belongs to the family of ducks, geese, and swans. This bird is a skilled diver and swimmer, and its long, pointed bill is perfectly adapted for catching fish and other aquatic prey.
The male and female Common Mergansers look significantly different. The male has a mostly white body with black and green iridescent head and neck, while the female has a mostly gray body with a rusty-red head. Both genders have a long, narrow bill and a distinctive crest on their heads.
These birds prefer to reside near freshwater sources such as rivers, lakes, and ponds in temperate regions of North America, Europe, and Asia. Their breeding season usually occurs in early spring and involves courtship displays such as synchronized head-bobbing and swimming side-by-side.
The Common Merganser is a highly skilled predator that feeds on small fish, crustaceans, tadpoles, and snails. They can dive as deep as 60 feet underwater in search of prey, and they have a specially designed transparent third eyelid that allows them to see underwater.
These birds are monogamous and form pairs that stay together for one breeding season. The female lays anywhere from 6-17 eggs in a hollow tree, nest box, or on the ground near a water source. The eggs hatch after about a month, and the newborn mergansers learn to swim and feed themselves within a day. The male usually leaves the female and chicks to fend for themselves after breeding season, and the mother raises the young until they are capable of flying and surviving on their own.
Despite the Common Merganser's strong migration patterns and resilient population, their numbers have still been negatively affected by habitat destruction, pollution, and overfishing. Conservation efforts such as habitat restoration, nesting boxes, and controlling of invasive species have been put in place to protect this magnificent waterbird species.