Alaska Species Explorer


Common Merganser

Common Name: Common Merganser
Scientific Name: Mergus Merganser
Distribution: Wide spread across North America
Conservation Status:

The Common Merganser population in North America has been stable over the last half-century, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey, except for a persistent declining trend evident in Manitoba, Canada.  The IUCN status is a least concern species.

Average Wingspan: 34 inches
Average Weight: 900-2160 grams
Plumage Description:

The males are striking with clean white bodies, dark green heads, and a slender, serrated red bill.  The females have gray bodies and cinnamon heads with a short crest.

Diet in the Wild: Mostly fish but also forage on insects, mollusks, crustaceans, and worms
Number of Eggs Per Clutch: 6-17 eggs
Incubation Period: 28-35 days

These ducks live mainly on freshwater rivers and lakes. They are rare in the ocean, but they sometimes use saltwater estuaries in winter. They nest in tree cavities in northern forests near rivers and lakes.

Threats in the Wild: Pesticides, toxic metals, acid rain, and hunting.
Did you know?:
  • Common Mergansers are sometimes called sawbills, fish ducks, or goosanders.
  • Usually nest in natural tree cavities or holes carved out by large woodpeckers. 
  • Hatchlings leave the nest within one to two days and hunt for their own food.