Common Meganser; Mergus meganser (photo by Shannon Gavin)

Common Mergansers are numerous in summer months along rivers in northern North America.

The word “merganser” comes from Latin and roughly translates to “plunging goose”, an apt description of this large duck that is often submerged looking for fish. They are excellent fishers, attracting gulls and occasionally bald eagles looking to steal their prey, rather than catching their own.

Within a day of hatching, flightless Merganser chicks make their way out of the nest and catch all of their own food. They start by diving for aquatic insects and at about 12 days old, they switch over to fish.