Language English Laurentian Maple Forest Photo: Biodôme Photo: Biodôme OngletsDescriptionDistinguishing features The head and neck are black with a large, white triangle on the back. The head has a crest. The eyes are yellow. The back is black and grades into a brownish colour towards the rump and tail. The anterior part of the wings is grey while the sides are reddish-brown. The breast and belly are white. On each side of the shoulders, two small, black arcs continue onto the breast. Reproduction The hooded merganser builds its nest in natural cavities dug by woodpeckers in trees and stumps. The female lays 5 to 12 eggs, and she incubates and raises them by herself. Often the female will lay her eggs in the nest of another female or even in the nest of a wood duck or common golden-eye. Sometimes she will even end up raising the young of these two species as well as her own. The day after hatching, the young leave the nest and the female leads them to a quiet spot. Diet Because this is a diving duck, its feet are placed towards the back of the body. It walks with difficulty on land but is a skillful swimmer. Its eyes are adapted to seeing under water. With its hooked beak and many teeth, the hooded merganser captures crayfish, snails, frogs, pollywogs, aquatic insects and numerous species of small fish such as yellow perch and sunfish. It also eats seeds and aquatic plants. Predators In the nest, eggs and young birds can be preyed upon by squirrels and racoons. After they leave the nest, they are vulnerable to many predators. In the water, the ducklings can be taken by mammals such as otter or by large fish such as pike. Habitat The hooded merganser lives on small lakes, beaver ponds, peat bogs, marshes, rivers and forest streams where the water is clear. It can be found in western and central Quebec but is becoming rare east of the Saguenay river. The largest populations occur in the Outaouais region, in the Laurentians, and in the Mauricie-Bois Francs region. Ecology, behaviour The hooded merganser has probably suffered from the elimination of large dead trees where they nest. Increasing turbidity of waterways caused by pollution and intensive logging (which causes surface erosion) makes it more difficult for the merganser to find prey. French nameHarle couronné Scientific nameLophodytes cucullatusPhylumChordataClassBirdsOrderAnseriformesFamilyAnatidae (geese and ducks)Size43 to 48 cmWeightMale : 600 to 950 g; female :450 to 675gLife spanRecord: 16 years and 3 monthsStatusLeast Concern (IUCN). Rare in southern Québec but not endangered.