Common Merganser 

Common Merganser, Louis Agassiz Fuertes, Birds of America, 1917

Order: Anseriformes
Family: Anatidae
Genus: Mergus
Species: merganser


La. anser  goose
La. forma  form, shape, kind
Gr. anous  foolish
La. anas  duck
La. mergus  waterbird

About two feet long. Glossy greenish black head and neck. Black back fading to ashy gray on lower back and tail. Brown wings with a black bar across white coverts. White breast with a pinkish tinge. Toothed red bill.

North America, nesting from Minnesota, the Great Lakes region and New England States far into Northern Canada beyond the tree limit, much further south in the western states. Winters from New England states, Illinois, and Kansas southward and in western North America from British Columbia to California, Texas and Mexico. Also common in Europe, Asia, Iceland, Greenland and the Orkney Islands.

USGS Common Merganser Map

Builds nests of leaves, grasses and moss lined with their own down in tree hollows, cliffs and nest boxes.

Lays six to sixteen ivory-white eggs around June which hatch after about one month of incubation. Young are led to water and tended to while still quite young and learn to fly at about two months.

Dives for fish, frogs and mollusks. A gluttonous bird that often swallows fish so large that it must wait to swallow completely until the fish's head is digested.

Such an adept swimmer, it will dive into raging torrents after fish and even under ice until water is nearly completely frozen over isolating it from its food when it finally flies south in small flocks of six or eight.


The Common Merganser Nestbox has a 10" by 10" floor, 33" inside ceiling, 5" by 5" square entrance opening located 30" (to the top of the opening) above the floor and ventilation openings.

 Assembled with corrosion resistant screws fit to pre-drilled countersunk pilot holes.  Hinged roof is secured with shutter hooks for easy access.

Mount 10 feet or higher on a tree trunk, (6' to 8' if on a post above water), in forest bottomlands within 100 feet of a river or a pond (further is ok

Nestbox Plans for Common Merganser
Common Merganser
Nestbox Plans


if there are no obstacles for the ducklings trek to water).

Place some wood chips on the floor. Squirrels may use this box.


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