Mergus merganser - Linnaeus, 1758
Common Merganser
Other English Common Names: common merganser
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Mergus merganser Linnaeus, 1758 (TSN 175185)
French Common Names: grand harle
Spanish Common Names: Mergo Mayor
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.105663
Element Code: ABNJB21010
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Birds - Waterfowl
Image 7634

© Larry Master

 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Aves Anseriformes Anatidae Mergus
Genus Size: B - Very small genus (2-5 species)
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: American Ornithologists' Union (AOU). 1998. Check-list of North American birds. Seventh edition. American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C. [as modified by subsequent supplements and corrections published in The Auk]. Also available online: http://www.aou.org/.
Concept Reference Code: B98AOU01NAUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Mergus merganser
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 09Apr2016
Global Status Last Changed: 21Nov1996
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by inspection
Rounded Global Status: G5 - Secure
Nation: United States
National Status: N5B,N5N (05Jan1997)
Nation: Canada
National Status: N5B,N5N,N5M (29Jan2018)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Alabama (S3N), Alaska (S5B), Arizona (S3S4), Arkansas (SNA), California (SNRB,SNRN), Colorado (S4B,S5N), Connecticut (S3B), Delaware (S4N), District of Columbia (S3N), Georgia (S4), Idaho (S3), Illinois (SNA), Indiana (S3N), Iowa (S5N), Kansas (S5N), Kentucky (S3N), Louisiana (S1S3N), Maine (S5), Maryland (S3N), Massachusetts (S2B,S5N), Michigan (S3), Minnesota (SNRB,SNRN), Missouri (SNRN), Montana (S5B), Navajo Nation (S2B,S3S4N), Nebraska (SNRN), Nevada (S4S5N,S4?B), New Hampshire (S4), New Jersey (S4), New Mexico (S3B,S5N), New York (S5), North Carolina (S1N), North Dakota (SU), Ohio (SNRN), Oklahoma (S4N), Oregon (S4), Pennsylvania (S3S4B,S4N), Rhode Island (SNA), South Carolina (SNRN), South Dakota (S2B,S3N), Tennessee (S4N), Texas (S3N), Utah (S2?B,S3S4N), Vermont (S4B,S5N), Virginia (S1B,S4N), Washington (S3N,S4B), West Virginia (S1B,S3N), Wisconsin (S4B), Wyoming (S4B,S5N)
Canada Alberta (S5), British Columbia (S5B), Labrador (S5B,S5M), Manitoba (S5B), New Brunswick (S5B,S4N,S5M), Newfoundland Island (S4), Northwest Territories (S4B), Nova Scotia (S5), Nunavut (SUB,SUM), Ontario (S5B,S5N), Prince Edward Island (SUB,S5N), Quebec (S4), Saskatchewan (S5B,S4M,S2N), Yukon Territory (S4B)

Other Statuses

IUCN Red List Category: LC - Least concern

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: >2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: BREEDS: Alaska, southern Yukon, Labrador, and Newfoundland south to central California, Arizona, New Mexico, southern Chihuahua (Brown 1990), and, east of Rockies, Minnesota, Michigan, New York, New England, and Nova Scotia. WINTERS: Alaska and southern Canada to Mexico and Florida. Also in Old World.

Population Size: >1,000,000 individuals

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
Help
Global Range: (>2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)) BREEDS: Alaska, southern Yukon, Labrador, and Newfoundland south to central California, Arizona, New Mexico, southern Chihuahua (Brown 1990), and, east of Rockies, Minnesota, Michigan, New York, New England, and Nova Scotia. WINTERS: Alaska and southern Canada to Mexico and Florida. Also in Old World.

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
NOTE: The maps for birds represent the breeding status by state and province. In some jurisdictions, the subnational statuses for common species have not been assessed and the status is shown as not-assessed (SNR). In some jurisdictions, the subnational status refers to the status as a non-breeder; these errors will be corrected in future versions of these maps. A species is not shown in a jurisdiction if it is not known to breed in the jurisdiction or if it occurs only accidentally or casually in the jurisdiction. Thus, the species may occur in a jurisdiction as a seasonal non-breeding resident or as a migratory transient but this will not be indicated on these maps. See other maps on this web site that depict the Western Hemisphere ranges of these species at all seasons of the year.
Endemism: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AK, AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, GA, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MT, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NN, NV, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV, WY
Canada AB, BC, LB, MB, NB, NF, NS, NT, NU, ON, PE, QC, SK, YT

Range Map
Note: Range depicted for New World only. The scale of the maps may cause narrow coastal ranges or ranges on small islands not to appear. Not all vagrant or small disjunct occurrences are depicted. For migratory birds, some individuals occur outside of the passage migrant range depicted. For information on how to obtain shapefiles of species ranges see our Species Mapping pages at www.natureserve.org/conservation-tools/data-maps-tools.

Range Map Compilers: NatureServe, 2002; WILDSPACETM 2002


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
CT Hartford (09003)*, Litchfield (09005)*, New London (09011)*
ID Ada (16001), Bingham (16011), Blaine (16013), Bonner (16017), Boundary (16021), Canyon (16027), Cassia (16031), Custer (16037)*, Elmore (16039), Fremont (16043), Jefferson (16051), Kootenai (16055), Nez Perce (16069), Power (16077), Shoshone (16079)
ND Bottineau (38009)*, Grant (38037)*
SD Fall River (46047), Pennington (46103)
UT Daggett (49009)*, Juab (49023)*, Kane (49025)*, Piute (49031)*, Sevier (49041)*, Tooele (49045)*, Washington (49053)*
VA Fairfax (51059)
WV Marion (54049), Preston (54077), Randolph (54083)
WY Sublette (56035)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
01 Lower Connecticut (01080205)+*, Farmington (01080207)+*
02 Middle Potomac-Catoctin (02070008)+
05 Tygart Valley (05020001)+, Cheat (05020004)+
09 Lower Souris (09010003)+*, Willow (09010004)+*
10 Angostura Reservoir (10120106)+, Rapid (10120110)+, Lower Heart (10130203)+*
14 Upper Green (14040101)+, Upper Green-Flaming Gorge Reservoir (14040106)+*
15 Upper Virgin (15010008)+*
16 Southern Great Salt Lake Desert (16020306)+*, East Fork Sevier (16030002)+*
17 Lower Kootenai (17010104)+, Pend Oreille Lake (17010214)+, Upper Coeur D'alene (17010301)+, Coeur D'alene Lake (17010303)+, Upper Spokane (17010305)+, Idaho Falls (17040201)+, Upper Henrys (17040202)+, American Falls (17040206)+, Lake Walcott (17040209)+, Beaver-Camas (17040214)+, Little Wood (17040221)+, Middle Snake-Succor (17050103)+, Lower Boise (17050114)+, Lower Snake-Asotin (17060103)+, Upper Salmon (17060201)+*, Clearwater (17060306)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
Help
General Description: See Kaufman (1990, Am. Birds 44:1203-1205) for information on identification.
Reproduction Comments: Clutch size is 6-17 (usually 9-12). Incubation lasts 28-32 days, by female. Young first fly at 60-70 days. First breeds at end of second year (Terres 1980, Palmer 1976).
Non-Migrant: N
Locally Migrant: Y
Long Distance Migrant: Y
Mobility and Migration Comments: Migration to northern breeding areas occurs mainly in March-April. Southerly migration is relatively late, mainly October into December. Some birds remain in northern areas (e.g., Great Lakes, Maritimes, New England) in winter. (Palmer 1976).
Estuarine Habitat(s): Lagoon, River mouth/tidal river
Riverine Habitat(s): BIG RIVER, MEDIUM RIVER
Lacustrine Habitat(s): Deep water, Shallow water
Palustrine Habitat(s): FORESTED WETLAND, Riparian
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Cliff, Forest - Conifer, Forest - Hardwood, Forest - Mixed
Special Habitat Factors: Standing snag/hollow tree
Habitat Comments: Mostly lakes and rivers; winters primarily on open lakes and rivers and brackish lagoons, rarely in marine coastal situations (AOU 1983).

Nests usually in tree cavities, also on ground and in nest boxes and cliff crevices; generally near clear waters of lakes and rivers in forested regions and mountainous terrain (AOU 1983, Terres 1980).

Adult Food Habits: Herbivore, Invertivore, Piscivore
Immature Food Habits: Herbivore, Invertivore, Piscivore
Food Comments: Eats mainly fishes obtained by diving underwater; also amphibians, crustaceans, mollusks, and other invertebrates. Young initially feed on insects, caught mostly underwater. (Palmer 1976).
Adult Phenology: Crepuscular, Diurnal
Immature Phenology: Crepuscular, Diurnal
Length: 64 centimeters
Weight: 1709 grams
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
Help
Management Summary Not yet assessed
Help
Population/Occurrence Delineation
Help
Group Name: Diving Ducks and Sea Ducks

Use Class: Breeding
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Evidence of historical breeding , or current and likely recurring breeding, at a given location, minimally a reliable observation of one or more breeding pairs in appropriate habitat. Be cautious about creating EOs for observations that may represent single breeding events outside the normal breeding distribution.
Separation Barriers: None.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 10 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 10 km
Separation Justification: Little information on breeding home ranges; separation distance somewhat arbitrary. Territories not defended in eiders, but goldeneyes defend small (0.18 to 1.45 hectares) territories (Eadie et al. 2000). Philopatry to breeding area strong in Common Eider (Reed 1975, Wakeley and Mendall 1976, Swennen 1990), and Spectacled Eider (Grand and Flint 1997).
Date: 29May2001
Author: Cannings, S.
Notes: Contains all members of the tribes Aythini, Mergini and Oxyurini.

Use Class: Migratory stopover
Subtype(s): Staging area, Foraging area, Roosting area
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Evidence of recurring presence of migrating or staging flocks (including historical); and potential recurring presence at a given location, minimally a reliable observation of 25 birds/square kilometer in appropriate habitat. Occurrences should be locations where the species is resident for some time during the appropriate season; it is preferable to have observations documenting presence over at least 7 days annually. Be cautious about creating EOs for observations that may represent single events.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 10 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 10 km
Separation Justification: Separation distance somewhat arbitrary; set at 10 kilometers to define occurrences of managable size for conservation purposes. Occurrences defined primarily on the basis of areas supporting concentrations of foraging birds, rather than on the basis of distinct populations.

Use Class: Nonbreeding
Subtype(s): Molting area, Migration staging area, Wintering area, Non-breeding feeding concentration area, Roost
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Evidence of recurring presence of molting, staging, or wintering flocks (including historical); and potential recurring presence at a given location, minimally a reliable observation of 25 birds/square kilometer in appropriate habitat. For wintering occurrences, it would be preferable to have observations documenting presence over at least 20 days annually. Be cautious about creating EOs for observations that may represent single events.
Mapping Guidance: Map roosting and feeding areas with separate polygons in same EO.
Separation Barriers: None.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 10 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 10 km
Separation Justification: Fidelity to molting sites (one or two lakes) high in Barrow's Goldeneye (van de Wetering 1997); fidelity to wintering sites probably high in Barrow's Goldeneye (Savard 1985). Separation distance somewhat arbitrary, set at 10 kilometers to define occurrences of managable size for conservation purposes. Occurrences defined primarily on the basis of areas supporting concentrations of foraging birds, rather than on the basis of distinct populations.
Date: 21Mar2001
Author: Cannings, S.
Notes: Contains all members of the tribes Aythini, Mergini and Oxyurini.
Population/Occurrence Viability
Help
U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
Help
Authors/Contributors
Help
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 20Jan1995
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): HAMMERSON, G.

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
Help
  • Alabama Ornithological Society. 2006. Field checklist of Alabama birds. Alabama Ornithological Society, Dauphin Island, Alabama. [Available online at http://www.aosbirds.org/documents/AOSChecklist_april2006.pdf ]

  • Allen, C. R., S. Demarais, and R. S. Lutz. 1994. Red imported fire ant impact on wildlife: an overview. The Texas Journal of Science 46(1):51-59.

  • American Ornithologists Union (AOU). 1998. Check-list of North American Birds. 7th edition. American Ornithologists Union, Washington, D.C. 829 pages.

  • American Ornithologists' Union (AOU). 1983. Check-list of North American Birds, 6th edition. Allen Press, Inc., Lawrence, Kansas. 877 pp.

  • American Ornithologists' Union (AOU). 1998. Check-list of North American birds. Seventh edition. American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C. [as modified by subsequent supplements and corrections published in The Auk]. Also available online: http://www.aou.org/.

  • Aquin, P. 1999. Évaluation de la situation des groupes taxonomiques des oiseaux du Québec. Ministère de l'Environnement et de la Faune. 13 pages.

  • B83COM01NAUS - Added from 2005 data exchange with Alberta, Canada.

  • Barbour, R.W. et al. 1973. Kentucky Birds.

  • Bellrose, F. C. 1980. Ducks, geese and swans of North America. 3rd edition. Stackpole Books, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. 540 pp.

  • BirdLife International. 2004b. Threatened birds of the world 2004. CD ROM. BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK.

  • Brown, B. T. 1990. Nesting common mergansers in Chihuahua, Mexico. Southwest Nat. 35:88-89.

  • Bull, John. 1974. Birds of New York State. Doubleday, Garden City, New York. 655 pp.

  • Canadian Wildlife Service. 1995. Last Mountain Lake and Stalwart National Wildlife Areas: Bird Checklist - Fourth Edition. Environment Canada. Ottawa, ON.

  • Canadian Wildlife Service. 1996. Population status and trends in waterfowl in Canada. Bird Trends (Canadian Wildlife Service) 5: 1-7.

  • DICKINSON, MARY B., ED. 1999. FIELD GUIDE TO THE BIRDS OF NORTH AMERICA, 3RD ED. NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY, WASHINGTON, D.C. 480 PP.

  • Desrosiers A., F. Caron et R. Ouellet. 1995. Liste de la faune vertébrée du Québec. Les publications du Québec. 122

  • Dionne C. 1906. Les oiseaux de la province de Québec. Dussault et Proulx.

  • Drennan, Susan R. 1986. 86th Christmas bird count. American Birds 40(4):575-1117.

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  • Eadie, J. M., L.-P. L. Savard, and M. L. Mallory. 2000 Barrow's Goldeneye (BUCEPHALA ISLANDICA). No. 548 IN A. Poole and F. Gill, editors, The birds of North America. The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, PA. 32pp.

  • Erskine, A. J. 1992. Atlas of breeding birds of the Maritime Provinces. Nimbus Publishing and the Nova Scotia Museum, Halifax, Nova Scotia.

  • Gauthier, J., and Y. Aubry (editors). 1996. The breeding birds of Quebec. Atlas of the breeding birds of southern Quebec. Association quebecoise des groupes d'ornithologues, Province of Quebec Society for the Protection of Birds, Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment Canada, Quebec Region, Montreal, 1302 pp.

  • Godfrey, W. E. 1986. The birds of Canada. Revised edition. National Museum of Natural Sciences, Ottawa. 596 pp. + plates.

  • Grand, J.B., and P.L. Flint. 1997. Productivity of nesting Spectacled Eiders on the lower Kashunuk River, Alaska. Condor 100:926-932.

  • Howell, S. N. G., and S. Webb. 1995. A guide to the birds of Mexico and northern Central America. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK.

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  • Lagacé M., L. Blais et D. Banville. 1983. Liste de la faune vertébrée du Québec. Première édition. Ministère du Loisir, de la Chasse et de la Pêche. 100

  • Lowery, George H. 1974. The Birds of Louisiana. LSU Press. 651pp.

  • Mallory, Mark and Karen Metz. 1999. Common Merganser. The Birds of North America. Vol. 12, No. 442: American Orinithologists' Union. The Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia.

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  • Mirarchi, R.E., editor. 2004. Alabama Wildlife. Volume 1. A checklist of vertebrates and selected invertebrates: aquatic mollusks, fishes, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. The University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa, Alabama. 209 pages.

  • New York State Breeding Bird Atlas. 1984. Preliminary species distribution maps, 1980-1984. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Wildlife Resources Center. Delmar, NY.

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  • Palmer, R. S., editor. 1976. Handbook of North American birds. Vol. 3. Waterfowl (concluded). Eiders, wood ducks,diving ducks, mergansers, stifftails. Yale Univ. Press, New Haven. 560 pp.

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  • Poole, A. F. and F. B. Gill. 1992. The birds of North America. The American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C. and The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, PA.

  • Reed, A. 1975. Migration, homing, and mortality of breeding female eiders SOMATERIA MOLLISSIMA DRESSERI of the St. Lawrence estuary, Quebec. Ornis Scand. 6:41-47.

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  • Swennen, C. 1990. Dispersal and migratory movements of eiders SOMATERIA MOLLISSIMA breeding in the Netherlands. Ornis Scand. 21:17-27.

  • THOMPSON,M.C., AND C. ELY.1989. BIRDS IN KANSAS VOLUME ONE.

  • Terres, J. K. 1980. The Audubon Society encyclopedia of North American birds. Alfred A. Knopf, New York.

  • Wakeley, J. S., and H. L. Mendall. 1976. Migrational homing and survival of adult female eiders in Maine. Journal of Wildlife Management 40:15-21.

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  • van de Wetering, D. 1997. Moult characteristics and habitat selection of post-breeding male Barrow's Goldeneye (BUCEPHALA ISLANDICA) in northern Yukon. Technical Report Series No. 296, Canadian Wildlife Service, Quebec Region.

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Citation for Bird Range Maps of North America:
Ridgely, R.S., T.F. Allnutt, T. Brooks, D.K. McNicol, D.W. Mehlman, B.E. Young, and J.R. Zook. 2003. Digital Distribution Maps of the Birds of the Western Hemisphere, version 1.0. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia, USA.

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"Data provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Robert Ridgely, James Zook, The Nature Conservancy - Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International - CABS, World Wildlife Fund - US, and Environment Canada - WILDSPACE."

Citation for Mammal Range Maps of North America:
Patterson, B.D., G. Ceballos, W. Sechrest, M.F. Tognelli, T. Brooks, L. Luna, P. Ortega, I. Salazar, and B.E. Young. 2003. Digital Distribution Maps of the Mammals of the Western Hemisphere, version 1.0. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia, USA.

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"Data provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Bruce Patterson, Wes Sechrest, Marcelo Tognelli, Gerardo Ceballos, The Nature Conservancy-Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International-CABS, World Wildlife Fund-US, and Environment Canada-WILDSPACE."

Citation for Amphibian Range Maps of the Western Hemisphere:
IUCN, Conservation International, and NatureServe. 2004. Global Amphibian Assessment. IUCN, Conservation International, and NatureServe, Washington, DC and Arlington, Virginia, USA.

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