Hooded Merganser
(Lophodytes cucullatus)


Picture of bird
© Glen Tepke (www.pbase.com/gtepke)
For additional photos and vocalizations, visit Dendroica. (Link opens in a new window.)

The Hooded Merganser is the smallest of the three merganser species and is the only one that occurs solely in North America. The species breeds mostly in eastern Canada, where it is found in the highest densities in the Great Lakes Region in southern Ontario and Quebec. The species is also found in southeast Saskatchewan, southern Manitoba, and the Maritimes. Its population status and numbers are difficult to determine accurately, due to the species’ secretive nature, its association with forested wetlands, and the fact that it nests in tree cavities. Furthermore, the Hooded Merganser is difficult to detect during fixed-wing aerial surveys, and an important part of its breeding range in the boreal forest is not covered very well by current surveys. Overall, mergansers are not heavily harvested by hunters. However, the Hooded Merganser is the most harvested of the three merganser species, but its harvest levels in Canada have declined slightly since the 1970s. This species has been identified as a priority for conservation and/or stewardship in one or more Bird Conservation Region Strategies in Canada.


Main designations for the species
DesignationStatusDateSubspecies, population
IUCN (Global)Least concern2018 
Wild Species (Canada)Secure2015 
Bird Conservation Region StrategyPriority Species2013 

Population status

Geographic area or populationPopulation change relative to ~1970ReliabilityStatus in relation to goal
CanadaModerate IncreaseMediumAt an Acceptable Level

Distribution maps


Migration strategy, occurrence

Short-distance migrant

Responsibility for conservation

Geographic areaResponsibility based on % of global population

General nesting period in Canada

Nesting period starts between mid-March and early May and ends between early July and mid-July, depending on the region. Before or after this period, the probability of an active nest is lower.

Conservation and management

This species is not a highly sought-after or commonly harvested game bird in Canada, but, like many other sea ducks, impacts from hunting are unknown (Dugger et al. 2009). Deforestation and acid rain may be potential threats for this species in some parts of its range. Other conservation concerns for the Hooded Merganser include the availability of suitable nesting cavities and the degradation and loss of wetlands (Lepage 2013a).


Bird conservation region strategies

Environment and Climate Change Canada and partners have developed Bird Conservation Region Strategies in each of Canada’s Bird Conservation Regions (BCRs). In these strategies, selected species are identified as priorities for one or more of the following reasons:

  • conservation concerns (i.e., species vulnerable due to population size, distribution, population trend, abundance, or threats)
  • stewardship responsibilities (i.e., species that typify the regional avifauna or have a large proportion of their range or population in the sub-region)
  • management concerns (i.e., species that require ongoing management because of their socio-economic importance as game species, or because of their impacts on other species or habitats)
  • other concerns (i.e., species deemed a priority by regional experts for other reasons than those listed above or because they are listed as species at risk or concern at the provincial level)

Select any of the sub-regions below to view the BCR strategy for additional details.

BCRs, marine biogeographic units, and sub-regions in which the species is listed as a priority
RegionSub-region and priority type
Boreal Hardwood TransitionBoreal Hardwood Transition, sub-region and priority type: Ontario and Manitoba -- Conservation
Boreal Hardwood TransitionBoreal Hardwood Transition, sub-region and priority type: Quebec -- Other
Boreal Softwood ShieldBoreal Softwood Shield, sub-region and priority type: Quebec -- Other
Northern RockiesNorthern Rockies, sub-region and priority type: Pacific and Yukon -- Other