Marine Wildlife Encyclopedia
Red-breasted Merganser Mergus serrator
This is one the most widespread sawbill ducks—ducks that have narrow beaks with serrated edges, like the teeth of a saw. All these birds dive for fish, using their specially adapted bills to grip their slippery prey. Like other sawbills, the red-breasted merganser has an elongated body, a long neck, and orange-red legs. Males
have a metallic green head and shaggy crest, while the female’s head is rust-colored, with a less flamboyant crest. These birds breed near fresh water, but spend the winter on coasts, where the water is less likely to freeze. Females build a nest in dense cover, or in a tree-hole, lining it with down. They lay up to 11 eggs, raising a single brood a year. Red-breasted mergansers are hunted in some parts of their range in order to protect fish stocks, although there is little evidence that they actually do much harm.