Hooded MerganserLophodytes cucullatus

adult male, breeding
Glenn Bartley/VIREO
adult female
John Heidecker/VIREO
 adults and first year male
Johann Schumacher/VIREO
adult male, breeding
Rob Curtis/VIREO
Hooded Merganser


16-19" (41-48 cm). A small duck with a slender pointed bill. Male has white, fan-shaped, black-bordered crest, blackish body with dull rusty flanks, and white breast with 2 black stripes down side. Female is dull gray-brown, with warmer brown head and crest. Both sexes show white wing patch in flight.


Hoarse grunts and chatters.


male pops & growls


Breeds on wooded ponds, lakes, and rivers; winters in coastal marshes and inlets.


Breeds from southern Alaska south to Oregon and Montana, and from Manitoba and Nova Scotia south to Arkansas and northern Alabama. Winters near coast from British Columbia south to California and from New England south to Florida and Texas.


The smallest of our mergansers, Hoodeds are most often seen along rivers and in estuaries during the fall and winter. They are usually found in pairs or in flocks of up to a dozen; when startled, they are among the fastest-flying of our ducks. Males perform a beautiful courtship display and, once mated, swim energetically around the female in further ritual displays. Hoodeds feed chiefly on small fish, which they pursue in long, rapid, underwater dives, but also take small frogs, newts, tadpoles, and aquatic insects.


8-12 white eggs in a down-lined cup in a natural tree cavity or sometimes in a fallen hollow log.

Similar Species

adult male, breeding


13-15" (33-38 cm). A small, chubby duck. Male largely white, with black back, black head with greenish and purplish gloss, and large white patch from behind eye to top and back of head.

adult male, breeding

Common Merganser

22-27" (56-69 cm). Male has flashing white sides, green head, white breast, and long, thin red bill. Female has gray body and sides; reddish-brown crested head sharply set off from white throat.

adult male, breeding

Red-breasted Merganser

19-26" (48-66 cm). Male has green head with wispy crest, gray sides, white neck ring, and rusty breast. Female grayish, with reddish-brown head shading gradually into gray of neck.


iPad Promo