Family Ducks, Geese, Swans (Anatidae)

Least Concern

Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus)


French: Harle couronné German: Kappensäger Spanish: Serreta capuchona

Mergus cucullatus


, 1758,

America = Virginia and Carolina ex Catesby


Often placed in genus Mergus. Phylogenetic analysis, however, found that this species is sister to the Mergus group of species#R. Hybridization with Mergus species reported rarely in captivity. Monotypic.


Breeds in the Pacific Northwest from British Columbia S in USA to Oregon and C Montana, possibly farther S; in E from SC to SE Canada S to Mississippi Valley and N Florida. Winters mainly on Pacific coast from SE Alaska to S California, and in E USA, but occurs throughout S USA and N Mexico.

Descriptive notes

42–50 cm; 453–910 g; wingspan 56–70 cm. Unmistakable. Generally smaller than other mergansers (especially female), but proportionately larger-headed, and... read more


Male is generally silent, except in display, when produces guttural “grrrooooooo” that recalls... read more


Breeds on small lakes (including beaver Castor canadensis ponds), pools and fast-flowing... read more

Food and feeding

Diet fairly diverse; mostly fish (minnows and other smaller species but also young trout Oncorhynchus mykiss) and aquatic... read more


Starts Mar/Apr, e.g. egg-laying from 25 Mar until 19 May in C Wisconsin, but 21 Apr to 5 Jun in Quebec, where eggs hatched 31 May–13... read more


Migratory, although there is distinct overlap between breeding and wintering areas; winters along... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Total world breeding population calculated at c. 76,000 individuals in mid 1970s, with no apparent signs of any major changes and... read more

Recommended citation

Carboneras, C. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus). 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 9 December 2019).