Photos taken by Liam in Statesboro, Georgia, USA
The Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus) is a small duck and the second smallest species of merganser, with only the Smew of Europe and Asia being smaller. It is also the only Merganser whose native habitat is restricted to North America.
Hooded Mergansers have a crest at the back of the head which can be expanded or contracted. In adult males, this crest has a large white patch, the head is black and the sides of the duck are reddish-brown. The adult female has a reddish crest, with much of the rest of the head and body a greyish-brown.
Their preferred habitat for breeding is in swamps and wooded ponds of the northern half of the United States and southern Canada. They prefer to nest in tree cavities near water, and form pairs in early winter. The male leaves the female soon after she lays her eggs, leaving her responsible for all incubation. After hatching, chicks leave the nest with their mother within 24 hours; they are already able to dive and feed themselves, although they remain with their mother for another five weeks.
Hooded Mergansers are short-distance migrants, and winter in the United States wherever winter temperatures allow for ice-free conditions on ponds, lakes and rivers.
These ducks feed by diving and swimming under water to collect small fish, crustaceans and aquatic insects. They find their prey underwater by sight.
H/t Project Noah