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Hooded Merganser

Lophodytes cucullatus

Did you know?

  • Hooded mergansers are a part of the Anatidae family, which they share with geese, swans, and other ducks.
  • They are named for their white head crests.
  • They live near fresh water habitats in North America.
  • They will nest up to 20 feet off the ground.
  • A female will lay up to twelve eggs in one clutch.


Like other diving ducks, the legs of hooded mergansers are located farther back on its body than those of ducks that stay on the surface. This trait helps make them expert divers. Hooded mergansers have a distinctive head crest that fans into a round half circle atop their heads. The crest is used to attract mates.


Hooded mergansers typically breed in southern Canada during warm months. Uniquely, they will nest right next to the water, often in leftover tree cavities. A female will lay up to twelve eggs per clutch. The males do not help with incubation.

Threat Level

  • Unknown
  • Common
  • Near Threatened
  • Threatened
  • Endangered
  • Critically Endangered
  • Extinct in the Wild


The Hooded Merganser is widespread and abundant.


North America


Swamps, ponds, marshes, slow-moving rivers

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We support hooded mergansers in the 1904 Flight Cage at the Zoo. Learn more about how we are helping wildlife around the world: Dedicated to Conservation

Find this animal in Historic Hill


Historic Hill

Historic Hill is a lovely stroll through one of the oldest parts of the Saint Louis Zoo. From the 1904 World’s Fair Flight Cage to the Spanish architectural flavor of the 1920s in the Bird House, Primate House and Herpetarium to the finishing touches of our thoroughly modern exhibits, this area of the Zoo has a unique ambiance and a nostalgic history that make it a great destination.

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