Mergansers are a common migrant in South Dakota, and a common winter resident
along larger river systems in the state. An expert diving fish-eater, they
often forage in small groups, although large flocks may form in winter below
large Missouri River reservoirs in the state. The species is also found in
Europe, where it is called a "Goosander".
Habitat: Strongly prefers freshwater, where it can
be found on a variety of open water habitats.
Diet: Mostly fish. Also
crustaceans, amphibians, aquatic insects, and occasionally aquatic plants.
Behavior: Forages by diving below the water's
surface and swimming underwater, propelled by its feet. They can
sometimes be seen swimming on the surface, peering underwater with their
heads partially submerged, and then diving after prey underwater when it is
Nesting: Rare breeder in South Dakota
Migration: Summers in Canada
and extreme northern U.S., winters throughout much of the United States interior,
and sometimes on protected bays along coastlines.
Conservation Status: Numbers appear to be stable
throughout most of their North American range.
Cornell University's "All About Birds - Common Merganser"
Whatbird.com: Common Merganser
Photo Information: March 20th, 2005 -- Wall Lake in western Minnehaha County -- Terry Sohl
Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or
text links below for additional, higher-resolution Common Merganser photos.