DVOC Main Page > Ornithological Studies > Common Merganser / Goosander


by Adrian Binns 02/06



Mergus merganser americanus

Common Merganser at Delaware Valley Birding Resources

Mergus merganser merganser



© A & J Binns

© Vireo

Greater Coverts

Shows a solid black bar across the base of the greater coverts, projecting at least 2/3rd the way across the innerwing. Best seen in flight

Does also have black at the base of the greater coverts, but these are usually covered by overlying white median coverts, giving a white innerwing look


Bill Shape / Culmen

Thin distal half to bill. The culmen begins to rise from the mid-bill region, resulting in a deeper bill base, and greater area between the lores and nostril

Has a thinner more even bill, with the culmen rising up strongly at the base of the bill



Indistinct and small

Often very obvious and long (note young birds may show a smaller nail)


Bill Color

Vivid scarlet-red

Slightly duller, darker crimson / blood-red


Loral Feathering

Forms a near vertical line that gives it a squared off look, with the gape line creating only a small incision into the feathering

Shows a prominent pointed triangular shaped loral feathering, creating a strong zig-zag shape to the feathering


Head Shape

Low sloping forehead with a smoothly contoured serpentine head shape

Steep, nearly vertical forehead, with two distinct areas of longer feathering on the crown and nape


Body Plumage

Tend to look clean white in winter , with a pale flush of pink appearing in late winter / early spring



Back Profile

Sometimes shows a more humped backed profile than Goosander