Bitterroot hoodies: The hooded merganser is one of two mergansers found in the valley
Named for the hood-like crest on both the male and female, the hooded merganser is one of two commonly observed merganser duck species found in the Bitterroot.
The other, the common merganser, is mallard-size and more frequently found along river systems while the much smaller hooded prefers small backwaters and ponds.
Mergansers are often referred to as “fish ducks” as that is what they primarily feed on. Their bills have serrated saw tooth adaptations that help grasp slippery prey, while most waterfowl species have flat “toothless” bills adapted for seeds, insects and vegetation.