Geographical Range North America
Habitat Swamps, ponds, marshes, slow-moving rivers
Scientific Name Lophodytes cucullatus
Conservation Status Common

This boldly-colored little duck is actually shy and secretive. It prefers shallow, clear ponds or swamps with plenty of woodland cover to hide in. Clear water is necessary for the merganser to find food on the bottom of the pond. It dives down in search of small fish, tadpoles, insects, snails, and small crustaceans, as well as seeds and aquatic plants.

Like other diving ducks, the legs of a merganser are located farther back on its body than those of a duck that stays on the surface. This trait helps make the bird an expert diver, though it's also a bit clumsier when walking on land. The bird raises its distinctive head crest into a rounded, fan shape during mating displays. At other times, the hood lies flat.

Hooded mergansers nest 10 to 20 feet off the ground in hollow trees.