I don’t know why anyone would name these long and slender birds Common Mergansers as they are most stunning not common in appearance. Though outfitted differently, they share the same long, thin reddish-orange bill.
The male Common Merganser is most handsome during breeding season with mostly white plumage offset by his iridescent green head and black feathering on it’s back. Outside of breeding season the male looks more like the female
And the female is quite stunning with her rusty colored head feathers that form a raggedy crest while her white chin stands out in contrast. Her breast, belly, sides are white, but the rest of her body is grayish. Her attire remains the same during breeding and non-breeding seasons.
This short video clip from the Puget Sound Museum shows part of a large flock of Common Mergansers as they groom and loaf in a harbor.
Common Mergansers are found throughout most of the continental U.S. as well as parts of Alaska and parts of Canada though they may be restricted to specific seasons in some areas. They are found on lakes and rivers as well as coastal bays and estuaries. So if you have never seen one before, watch for these long and slender ducks whenever you are at these areas. They are easily confused with Red-breasted Mergansers, a related species that looks a lot like them. But no problem, you will know you have seen a merganser duck.
Here is an interesting fact: they are diving birds but they nest in trees cavities!