RSPB
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Conservation status: Green

These handsome diving ducks are a member of the sawbill family, so called because of their long, serrated bills, used for catching fish. A largely freshwater bird, the goosander first bred in the UK in 1871. It built up numbers in Scotland and then since 1970 it has spread across northern England into Wales, reaching south-west England. Its love of salmon and trout has brought it into conflict with fishermen. It is gregarious, forming into flocks of several thousand in some parts of Europe.

Illustrations

Overview

Latin name

Mergus merganser

Family

Swans, ducks and geese (Anatidae)

Where to see them

Upland rivers of N England, Scotland and Wales in summer. In winter they move to lakes, gravel pits and reservoirs, occasionally to sheltered estuaries.

When to see them

All year in breeding range, but only in winter across England south of the Humber.

What they eat

Fish

Population

EuropeUK breeding*UK wintering*UK passage*
-3,100-3,800 pairs12,000 birds-

Distribution

Key

Audio

Ruud van Beusekom, Xeno-canto

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