Red-Breasted Merganser

A Diving Duck


Latin: Mergus serrator. Red-Breasted Mergansers (most widespread of the mergansers) are diving ducks. They have long bills. They are found in rivers, lakes, and the ocean. Compared to the other two Merganser species, Red-Breasted Mergansers prefer saltwater. They live throughout the northern hemisphere (North America, Greenland, Europe, and Asia.) They can live up to around 9 1/2 years. Their diet consists of fish, usually trout and salmon. They bread from April to June. Wanna hear what this duck sound like? Go to to listen!

Range Map:

Above is a picture of a Range Map. This Range Map tells you when and where the Red-Breasted Merganser is located and if it is breeding or non-breeding.

Male Red-Breated Merganser

Male Description

The average length of the Male Red-Breasted Merganser is 17.1 inches and average weight is 1.56 lbs. It has a small neck which is white. The chest is a rusty color and speckled with black. The head is a greenish black color and is rather small. The males have red eyes and feet. The back is black with white along the wings. The tail is gray and the wings are black.

Female Red-Breasted Merganser

Female Description

The average length of the Female Red-Breasted Merganser is 16.3 inches and the average weight is 1.52 lbs. The head is a rusty brown with long, double crest.The chin could either be dark or pale. Breast, back, wings and tail are all grey. Belly is white. Bill and feet are both orange.

Red breasted merganser diving and catching food
This video shows a Red-Breasted Merganser diving and catching food. This shows why it is labeled a "diving duck".

Breeding (Most Interesting)

The thing I found most interesting about the Red-Breasted Merganser is their ways of breeding. The most common time for them to breed starts in March (Spring Migration). Each season they form mated pairs. The males use a special behavior to attract a female and sometimes there are multiple males trying to get with one female. In May the pairs arrive on the "breeding grounds" and the females lay their eggs in June, which is considered late in the season. Then the eggs will hatch in late July. Females can lay anywhere from 5-24 eggs! The incubation process for 30 to 31 days. When the eggs hatch the hatch all around the same time. The first time these birds will mate is their third year. The young birds can usually fledge (develop wing feathers that are large enough for flight) 60-65 days after hatching.