Red-breasted Merganser
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Red-breasted Merganser

Red-breasted merganser
Mergus serrator -New Jersey -USA -winter-8.jpg
Male in winter at New Jersey, USA
Red-breasted Merganser, female, Ottawa.jpg
Female, Ottawa, Canada
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Anseriformes
Family: Anatidae
Genus: Mergus
M. serrator
Binomial name
Mergus serrator
MergusSerratorIUCN2018 2.png
Red-breasted merganser range      Breeding      Resident      Non-breeding      Passage

Merganser serrator (Linnaeus, 1758)

The red-breasted merganser (Mergus serrator) is a diving duck, one of the sawbills. The genus name is a Latin word used by Pliny and other Roman authors to refer to an unspecified waterbird, and serrator is a sawyer from Latin serra, "saw".[2]

The red-breasted merganser was one of the many bird species originally described by Linnaeus in the landmark 1758 10th edition of his Systema Naturae, where it was given the binomial name of Mergus serrator.[3]

Juvenile, Florida
Egg, Collection Museum Wiesbaden


The adult red-breasted merganser is 51-62 cm (20-24 in) long with a 70-86 cm (28-34 in) wingspan.[4] It has a spiky crest and long thin red bill with serrated edges. The male has a dark head with a green sheen, a white neck with a rusty breast, a black back, and white underparts. Adult females have a rusty head and a greyish body. The juvenile is like the female, but lacks the white collar and has a smaller white wing patch.


The call of the female is a rasping prrak prrak, while the male gives a feeble hiccup-and-sneeze display call.


Food and feeding

Red-breasted mergansers dive and swim underwater. They mainly eat small fish, but also aquatic insects, crustaceans, and frogs.


Its breeding habitat is freshwater lakes and rivers across northern North America, Greenland, Europe, and Asia. It nests in sheltered locations on the ground near water. It is migratory and many northern breeders winter in coastal waters further south.

Speed record

The fastest duck ever recorded was a red-breasted merganser that attained a top airspeed of 100 mph while being pursued by an airplane. This eclipsed the previous speed record held by a canvasback clocked at 72 mph.[5]


The red-breasted merganser is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies.


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Mergus serrator". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 2013.
  2. ^ Jobling, James A (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. pp. 251, 354. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.
  3. ^ Linnaeus, Carl (1758). Systema Naturae per Regna Tria Naturae, Secundum Classes, Ordines, Genera, Species, cum Characteribus, Differentiis, Synonymis, Locis (in Latin). Vol. I (10th revised ed.). Holmiae: (Laurentii Salvii). p. 129 – via The Internet Archive.
  4. ^ Jonsson, Lars (1992). Birds of Europe with North Africa and the Middle East. Princeton University Press. p. 118. ISBN 0-691-03326-9.
  5. ^ "The Need for Speed". Ducks Unlimited. 7 May 2007. Archived from the original on 9 September 2015. Retrieved 2015.

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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