Common Merganser or Goosander

Mergus merganser

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This large, massive-looking, gregarious duck can be observed in Germany, sometimes all year round. It is known as a migrant and winter visitor, especially in its northern populations. Its breeding grounds in Germany are mainly in the north on the Baltic coast and in the foothills of the Alps. It is a frequenter of freshwater rivers and lakes close to nature that are rich in fish. Goosanders are cavity-nest builders. Therefore, cliffs with caves or forests with tree hollows are required for breeding. However, they also settle for niches in houses and nesting boxes. The female lays about 7 to 14 pale-beige eggs. She raises the brood alone. The nidifuous chicks hatch after about 32 to 35 days and leave the nest the next day. If the nests are located in high tree hollows, the chicks have to jump several metres into the ground. Their plumage and wings act like a parachute. The chicks are already good swimmers, but in the beginning they are often transported on the mother's back. They feed on water insects and worms. The adults mainly eat fish. A typical feature of mergansers is "upending". They stick their heads under water to look for prey. Only after spotting prey do they dive down to catch it. The male merganser, which is larger and heavier than the female, has a black, greenish head. The body is whitish to salmon pink with a black back, red legs and a red bill with serrated edges and a distinct hook at the tip. In flight, large white spots are visible on the wings. These are also present on the female, which is plainer, with a greyish plumage and a reddish-brown head.

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