Family Ducks, Geese, Swans (Anatidae)

Least Concern

Goosander (Mergus merganser)


French: Grand Harle German: Gänsesäger Spanish: Serreta grande
Other common names: Common Merganser

Mergus Merganser


, 1758,



Has hybridized with Somateria mollissima#R; hybridization with Aythya americana recorded in captivity. Proposed taxon comatus (from C Asia) is a synonym of orientalis. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • M. m. merganser Linnaeus, 1758 – Palearctic: breeds from Iceland E to Kamchatka, S to C Europe, NE China and N Japan; winters on Atlantic coasts and from C Europe E to Iran, also in Korea, Japan and China.
  • M. m. orientalis Gould, 1845 – breeds in C Asia from NE Afghanistan E through Tibet and Himalayas to W China; in winter S to Indus Valley and Himalayan foothills to SE China.
  • M. m. americanus Cassin, 1852 – North America: breeds from Alaska E to Newfoundland, S to N California, SW New Mexico and N Pennsylvania; in winter expands farther S to SW USA and N Mexico.
  • Descriptive notes

    58–72 cm; male 1300–2100 g, female 900–1700 g; wingspan 78–102 cm. Large sawbill, with obviously larger body and head than broadly sympatric M.... read more


    In display, male produces guitar-like note (e.g. a twanging “uig-a”) while simultaneously... read more


    Breeds on clear, freshwater lakes, pools and in upper reaches of rivers, generally in vicinity of... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mainly fish, generally < 100 mm in length; also aquatic invertebrates (molluscs, crustaceans, worms, insects and larvae), amphibians,... read more


    Starts Mar–May, with earliest eggs in C & W Europe laid late Mar to mid Apr but generally from mid May in Scandinavia and Russia... read more


    Partially migratory, with moulting and breeding areas generally vacated in late Aug/early Sept in... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). North American winter population estimated at c. 640,000 birds in mid 1970s, while 110,000–160,000 estimated to winter in W... read more

    Recommended citation

    Carboneras, C. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Goosander (Mergus merganser). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 11 December 2019).