Birda Logo
loading...
A photo of a Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator), male
Red-breasted Merganser, Male

Red-breasted Merganser

Mergus serrator

The Red-breasted Merganser, Mergus serrator, is a distinctive duck with a slender, serrated red bill and a spiky crest. Males in breeding plumage exhibit a dark head with a green sheen, a white neck, a rusty breast, a black back, and white underparts. Females and juveniles are more subdued, with females sporting a rusty head and a greyish body, while juveniles resemble females but lack the white collar and have smaller white wing patches.

Identification Tips

Adult males are unmistakable with their contrasting colors and spiky crests. Females and non-breeding males can be confused with the similar Common Merganser, but the Red-breasted Merganser lacks the light chin patch of its relative and has less contrast between the head and breast.

Habitat

The Red-breasted Merganser breeds on freshwater lakes and rivers across northern regions. It is unique among its genus for its frequent use of saltwater during winter months.

Distribution

This species has a broad range across the Northern Hemisphere, migrating from northern breeding grounds to mostly coastal wintering areas.

Behaviour

Outside of breeding season, Red-breasted Mergansers form flocks, typically small but occasionally numbering up to 100 individuals. They are known for their rapid flight and are capable of diving and swimming underwater to pursue prey.

Song & Calls

The female's courtship call is a rasping "prrak prrak," while the male produces a catlike "meow." In flight, females emit a harsh "gruk." Generally, this species is quiet when not breeding.

Breeding

Nesting occurs in sheltered spots near water, with migration to coastal waters in the south during winter. Flock sizes vary, being smaller in spring migration compared to autumn and winter.

Similar Species

The Common Merganser is the most similar species, but differences in plumage and habitat preference can aid in distinguishing between the two.

Diet and Feeding

Their diet consists mainly of small fish, supplemented by aquatic insects, worms, crustaceans, and amphibians.

Conservation status

The Red-breasted Merganser is classified as Least Concern by the IUCN. It is subject to the AEWA and is a game bird in North America, though it is not commonly hunted. Threats include habitat loss, exposure to toxins, and bycatch in fishing operations.

Red-breasted Merganser Sounds


Recorded by: © 
App logo
Birda is a birdwatching app and community aimed at curious people who want to deepen their connection with nature.

Red-breasted Merganser Fun Facts

Did you know?
The scientific name of the Red-breasted Merganser means 'serrated bill'.

Red-breasted Mergansers on Birda

Sightings

More Ducks, Geese, Swans

A photo of a Mandarin Duck (Aix galericulata) , male

Mandarin Duck

Aix galericulata
Birda Logo

Your birdwatching journey like never before

Connect with nature in minutes
Take a walk, look out of the window and log the birds that you see. Feel good about those little connections to nature.
Discover the joy of birding
Find new birding spots, see more birds, share and celebrate with a like-minded community of nature lovers.
Play your part in saving nature
Logging your birding sightings and sessions turns into positive action for our planet. Every sighting counts.

Birda Blog

What Our Birders Say
Trevarthen1
Birda fan
I really enjoy using Birda, all sightings are recorded and photos can be added. There are monthly challenges which help to get you out to record your sightings. The Birda community are great and are happy to help with unidentified bird sightings. Suitable for all ages and experience!
778
Great bird recording
For a while I’ve been trying to find an app to easily record bird lists and day out and struggled to find one that I like. Birda is great for this, straightforward and a great community!
Madstherangers
A mordern game changer
Birda is an awesome app, its updated the world of birding to the modern day with a fun and easy to use app. It’s engaging and allows positive interaction with fellow bird lovers!
Nedz53
Really useful
Downloaded to give it a try, everything worked perfectly, recorded my first bird watching walk. Very impressed. Have already recommended to friends!
Stewart W
Fantastic to be involved
Fantastic to be involved, great for mental health and gets you responding with the Challenges that are to takd part in.
Chudbond
Love Birda
I love this app. It really encourages you to log your sightings and the community is friendly and helpful.
Carl B
Helped me to identify more birds
Love this app and has helped me to identify more birds. The challenges and badges are great for keeping the motivation going to get out and keep birding.
Amylia S
Best app for any birding person!
I love this app!! I am so addicted to it when I saw it had 3 star review I was so sad! The app is awesome!! The best app for any birding person! ❤️
D3Nature
Great app for learning Birds
I’ve been using the app for a couple of months and love it....Someone said it’s like a real life Pokémon Go for birds. They’re not far off! It’s something that the family can do that gets you out and about. Well worth downloading no matter your age.
Nick S
Work together with community
Been loving using this app to log my bird sightings and work together with community members to identify different birds. I've already learned a lot since I started about a month ago!
As featured in
Connect with nature,
Find your flock
Download Birda - QR Code
© 2024 All rights reserved