Common Name

Scientific Name

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Photo by Robert T. Maytum
Photo Courtesy of Robert T. Maytum

The red-breasted merganser, Mergus serrator, breeds in the northern parts of the Northern Hemisphere and winters south to Mexico, northern Africa, and southern China. It is a common migrant in Utah, and occasionally is seen in this state in winter. Although nesting of this species in Utah has been reported, its nesting in Utah is questionable and is considered unconfirmed. Its breeding habitats include rivers, lakes, and ponds, nests often being on small islands with low, shrubby vegetation. Its diet consists mostly of fishes, but it also consumes crustaceans and aquatic insects.

The nest is usually a protected site on the ground, within 25 feet of the water, among tree roots, piles of driftwood, or logs, or under low vegetation. Five to eleven eggs are incubated by the female parent for 29 to35 days. The young are tended by the female for about 59 days after hatching.


  • Ehrlich, P. R., D. S. Dobkin, and D. Wheye. 1988. The birderís handbook[:] a field guide to the natural history of North American birds. Simon & Schuster, New York. xxx + 785 pp.

  • Peterson, R. T., and V. M. Peterson. 1990. A field guide to western birds, 3rd ed. Houghton Mifflin, Boston. 432 pp.