Mergus serrator

Mergus serrator, Lin.

972bis. :- Murray's Vertebrate Zoology of Sind, p. 308 ; Game Birds of India, Vol. III, p. 305.


Length, 24 to 26; expanse, 29 to 32.5; wing, 9 to 10; tail, 3.1 to 4.2 ; tarsus, 1.8 to 2.05; bill at front, 2.4 to 2.5.

In the male the bill varies from orange-red to deep vermilion, is more or less dusky on the edge, and has the nail varying from pale yellowish-grey to almost black. In young females there is more dusky on the upper mandible, where the red is often only a lateral band.

The whole head, chin, throat and the neck all round, for about one inch, black, glossed with metallic green on the sides of the head and a bluer sheen elsewhere; along the middle of the crown and occiput runs a comparatively narrow line of excessively narrow, more or less disintegrated, webbed, elongate feathers, of which the longest are over three inches in Length, forming a conspicuous crest; the rest of the neck all round, to just the base, pure white, with a conspicuous narrow black line down the centre of its hinder aspect; at the base of the neck a light brownish-rufous, or pale brownish-chesnut band, extends all round, narrower behind and broadening into a crop-patch. This band is streaked longitudinally with blackish-brown. The interscapular region and upper back, the extreme sides of the breast and scapulars, velvet-black; outside the scapulars and between these and the wing there is a conspicuous patch of long white feathers; the primaries and their coverts (which latter are darkest), the shoulder of the wing and lesser-coverts just above the carpus, blackish-brown ; the rest of the lesser and median-coverts pure white ; the secondary greater-coverts black, all, except the first three, very broadly tipped with white, but leaving a portion of their black bases visible below the white median-coverts, thus forming the first black bar across the white of the wing; the secondaries are black, all, except the first three, very broadly tipped with white ; tertiaries white, conspicuously margined with black, except the last three, which are black ; axillaries pure white ; rest of the lower parts white, with, in life, a beautiful salmon or buffy tinge which disappears in the skin ; flanks white, vermiculated with greyish-black ; middle and lower back, rump and upper tail-coverts, white, with very delicate and close vermiculations of dull black, producing a grey effect; tail dull brown; lower wing-coverts white.

The female has the entire crown, occiput and crest brown, with more or less of a dull rufous or chesnut tinge, and rather ashy towards the forehead ; sides of the head and neck all round pale dull brownish chesnut; chin white ; throat albescent; breast and entire lower parts white or pinkish-white in life, only at the base of the throat and crop the grey-brown bases of the feathers show through to a certain extent like hidden bars; interscapulary region, mantle, lower back, rump and upper tail-coverts brown ; most of the feathers with paler margins ; quills dusky-black; secondaries and their greater-coverts black, all but the first three broadly tipped with white; tertiaries blackish-dusky, paling anteriorly, whitish towards the tip ; the innermost mostly white, with a black outer margin ; tail like the back.

Both sexes from the above description resemble the Goosander, but may be distinguished by their small size, and in proportion to their length much thinner bills. :- Hume's Stray Feathers, Vol. IX, p. 268.

The Red-breasted Merganser is a very rare cold weather visitant to the Mekran and Kurrachee Coast.

Handbook to the Birds of the Bombay Presidency
Barnes, Henry Edwin. Handbook to the birds of the Bombay Presidency, 1885.
Title in Book: 
Mergus serrator
Spp Author: 
Book Author: 
Barnes, H. Edwin
Page No: 
Common name: 
Red-breasted Merganser
Red-breasted Merganser
Mergus serrator
Term name: 

Add new comment

This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.
Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith