Alaska Species Explorer



Common Name: Smew
Scientific Name: Mergellus albellus

Usually found in Eurasia, but during the autumn it can be found in the Aleutian Islands of Alaska.

Conservation Status:

It is not considered threatened on the IUCN Red List, though its population is decreasing.

Average Wingspan: 25 inches
Average Weight: 600 grams
Plumage Description:

The male breeding plumage is black and white, with a black face and white breast feathers.  The female has a brown head with a white cheek and chin patch.  The breast is light grey and the rest of the body is darker grey.

Diet in the Wild: Fish, insects, and invertebrates
Number of Eggs Per Clutch: 6-9 eggs
Incubation Period: 26-28 days

Breed in small lakes and ponds. Winter in lakes, streams and estuaries and often build nests in holes in trees.

Threats in the Wild: mink, avian predators, bears
Did you know?:
  • Other names for the smew are “Weasel Coot” and “White Nun”.
  • Smallest species of mergansers
  • Very rare in America, considered an accidental or transient visitor
  • Feathers of the male are said to look like cracked ice