The Hooded Merganser’s distribution is more limited than that of other mergansers, and its body size is smaller as well. Hooded Mergansers are cavity nesters, and will use nest boxes quite readily. In some areas they commonly use Wood Duck nest boxes.
The eggs of Hooded Mergansers are unusually thick-shelled, and unusually round in shape, though it is not known why these traits occur. Young birds have longer claws than most other ducks to help them climb out of the nest cavity.
The male in breeding plumage is distinctive and not easily confused with other species. Black head and neck with large white patch on the side of the head. The crest of the male may be up, as in this photo, or down as in the initial photograph. Black back, rufous flanks and white belly, White neck with black bands. Note the small, black bill.
Sam is the founder of Birdzilla.com. He has been birding for over 30 years and has a world list of over 2000 species. He has served as treasurer of the Texas Ornithological Society, Sanctuary Chair of Dallas Audubon, Editor of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's "All About Birds" web site and as a contributing editor for Birding Business magazine. Many of his photographs and videos can be found on the site.