Red-breasted Merganser

red-breasted merganserRed-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator) has the same long, serrated bill and diving efficiency as the other species in the family, although they display a shaggy greenish-black crest. Below the head, a small white collar quickly transitions to a dappled brown breast. The drake shows a white underbelly, gray vermiculated sides, and prominent horizontal white spots in the black plumage behind the breast. Red-breasted mergansers defining characteristic is rapid flying speed (up to 81 miles per hour) right above the water, flashing white coverts and secondaries that are wider than other merganser species. The male has blood-red irises and a bill that ranges in color from bright red to a muted orange. Hens closely resemble those of the Common Merganser,  but the Red-breasted Merganser is smaller, displays more mottled gray mid-body plumage, and has a much lighter chin patch.