Common Merganser

Posted on in Recent Sightings by Hawk Mountain

Male Common Merganser Swimming

A pair of Common Mergansers (Mergus merganser) were spotted under the bridge on Hawk Mountain Road. Though the photo only shows the male, both male and female were observed swimming in the water of the Little Schuylkill River. Among the largest of the PA ducks, common mergansers are distinguished by their longer, more streamlined appearance and a long, narrow bill with serrated edges that helps them catch fish. Males are striking; their bodies are mainly white, but their black heads have a greenish iridescent hue that runs down the upper back, much resembling a tuxedo of sorts. The females are a bit drabber, but by no means plain. Their body is silvery gray and white, aside from their contrasting rusty brown head and crest. Both sexes have orangey-red bills. These well-dressed waterfowl can be seen in lakes and rivers during the late winter months. In early spring they migrate back to northern states and Canada for the breeding season. 

Photo by Derek Lederer.