The Hooded Merganser, Lophodytes cucullatus, is a small sea duck.
Hooded Mergansers have a crest at the back of the head which can be expanded or contracted. In adult males, this crest has a large white patch, the head is black and the sides are reddish brown. The adult female has a reddish crest, with much of the rest of the head and body a greyish brown. The Hooded Merganser has a sawbill but is not classified as a typical merganser.
Their breeding habitat is swamps and wooded ponds near the Great Lakes or on the Pacific coast of North America. They prefer to nest in tree cavities near water. They will use Wood Duck nesting boxes if available and unoccupied. They form pairs in early winter.
These ducks are short distance migrants and winter in the southern United States or on the south-central west coast of North America. Although they have occurred as vagrants to Europe, this attractive species is so common in collections that only a ringed bird would be likely to be accepted as anything other than an escape.
These birds feed by diving and swimming under water. They eat small fish, crustaceans and aquatic insects.
Their population has declined as a result of hunting and loss of nesting habitat.