Red-breasted Merganser/Mergus serrator

Red-breasted Merganser/Mergus serrator - Photographer: Даниел Митев
Red-breasted Merganser/Mergus serrator - Photographer: Иван Петров
Red-breasted Merganser/Mergus serrator - Photographer: Иван Петров
Red-breasted Merganser/Mergus serrator - Photographer: Даниел Митев

L 52-58 cm, WS 67-82 cm. Breeds along coasts, in archipelagos and at clear inland waters both in taiga and in mountains, and on tundra. Gregarious, even in breeding season, but rarely forms very large flocks (as Goosander habitually does). Nests on ground among sheltering vegetation.
IDENTIFICATION: Medium-large, slimmer than Goosander but otherwise very similar. Bill is narrower, especially at base, and crest is more brush-like and shaggy (on male almost ‘punk’), giving a slightly small-headed appearance; neck also narrower. - Adult male breeding: Head black, glossed green; white collar above black-streaked rufous-brown breast; black area with large white spots at side of breast is distinctive. Most of upperparts black, flanks grey. In flight, large white patch on inner wing, but not so extensive as on Goosander. -Adult female: Resembles female Goosander. For separation, note the following: lack of sharp division between brown head and off-white lower neck; pale throat patch diffusely set off; bill thin at base; crest shorter and ‘spikier’; head more cinnamon-brown, not so dark red; more ‘striped’ face, with pale lores and dark lines above and below; back darker and tinged brown, and flanks less clean grey; in flight, head and neck appear slimmer; white square on inner wing invariably divided by obvious black line; upper forewing dark brown-grey, darker and less clean grey than on Goosander. - Adult male eclipse: Like adult female, but retains extensive white on wing. - Juvenile: Like adult female, but bill duller red, and crest shorter. - 1stsummer male: Attains most of adult male plumage except for head and neck, head being tinged brownish, neck largely lacking the white collar; white on wing not so extensive as on adult male.
VOICE: Display-call of male weak and not often heard, rhythmic, one hiccup and a sneeze well spaced, ‘chika … pitchee’. Call of female repeated hard, grating ‘prrak prrak prrak …’.

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