Mergus are seaducks that primarily feed on fish. Along with the Smew and Hooded Merganser, they are therefore often known as "sawbills" - so named because of the serrated edges to their bills to help them grip their slippery prey.
Most of the merganser species favor riverine habitats, the exception being the Red-breasted Merganser, which is common at sea.
Species and Ranges
- Auckland Islands Merganser, Mergus australis (extinct, c.1902) - Formerly occurred on South Island and Stewart Island in New Zealand
- Common Merganser or Goosander, Mergus merganser - Found in Europe, North Asia and North America.
- Brazilian Merganser, Mergus octosetaceus - Found in Brazil, South America
- Red-breasted Merganser, Mergus serrator - Found across northern North America, Greenland, Europe and Asia.
- Chinese Merganser, Mergus squamatus - Found inttemperate East Asia
Diet / Feeding:
Ducks generally feed on larvae and pupae usually found under rocks, aquatic animals, plant material, seeds, small fish, snails and crabs.
Feeding Ducks ...
We all enjoy ducks and many of us offer them food to encourage them to come over and stay around - and it works! Who doesn't like an easy meal!
However, the foods that we traditionally feed them at local ponds are utterly unsuitable for them and are likely to cause health problems down the road. Also, there may be local laws against feeding this species of bird - so it's best to check on that rather than facing consequences at a later stage.
Please note that feeding ducks and geese makes them dependent on humans for food, which can result in starvation and possibly death when those feedings stop. If you decide to feed them, please limit the quantity to make sure that they maintain their natural ability to forage for food themselves - providing, of course, that natural food sources are available.
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