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North Carolina Wildlife Species Information

Hooded Merganser - Lophodytes cucullatus

Hooded Merganser Lophodytes cucullatus

Identification Tips:

  • Length: 13 inches Wingspan: 26 inches
  • Small, compact diving duck
  • Long, pointed bill with serrated edges
  • Erectile, fan-like crest extends from back of head
  • Dark bill and wings
  • Often cocks its tail like a Ruddy Duck
  • Immature similar to adult female

Adult male:

  • Yellow eye
  • Black head and back
  • Large white patch in the center of the crest
  • White breast and belly
  • Black and white stripes at forward portion of reddish flanks
  • Dark tail
  • Inner half of upperwings whitish, brodered by 2 dark bars
  • Alternate plumage worn from fall through early summer
  • Male in basic eclipse plumage similar to adult female

Adult female:

  • Brown eye
  • Cold gray-brown head, neck, flanks, back, and upperwings with paler breast
  • Faint reddish tinge to crest
  • White belly

Similar species:

Adult male in alternate plumage is unmistakable. Female vaguely similar to other mergansers but much smaller with cold brown head, with reddish fan-like crest, and dark bill.

Length and wingspan from: Robbins, C.S., Bruun, B., Zim, H.S., (1966). Birds of North America. New York: Western Publishing Company, Inc.

Above information used courtesy of United States Geological Survey.

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