Birds of Distinction – The Hooded Merganser

The beautiful Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus) is also the only representative of its genus, it and the true Mergansers having the culmen longer than the tarsus, while from the Mergansers it differs in having the serrations of both mandibles short, blunt, and not distinctly inclined backwards at the tips. The male has a magnificent circular crest of hairlike feathers, which is pure white, bordered by a sharply defined black rim. The head, neck, and upper back are black, the breast and abdomen white, and the sides light cinnamon finely barred with black. The female has a much smaller crest and is grayish brown above and white below, while the young are similar to the female, but have the crest much more udimentary. The Hooded Merganser is found generally throughout North America, breeding mainly to the northward and migrating southward in winter as far as Mexico and Cuba. It frequents the quiet water of ponds, lakes, and slow-flowing streams, feeding largely on vegetable substances. It nests in hollow trees after the manner of the Wood-Duck, and lays from six to ten buffy white eggs. Mr. Bent found it to be one of the rarer Ducks in the Devil’s Lake region of North Dakota, while Mr. Ernest E. Thompson reports it as a common summer resident in various parts of Manitoba.