Mergus merganser


The Goosander is a medium-sized duck and a member of a group known as the 'sawbills' after their long, narrow bills with saw-like 'teeth' which are good for gripping fish. A long, streamlined bird, the Goosander is perfectly shaped for swimming after fish. Goosanders are gregarious birds, forming flocks of thousands of birds in some parts of Europe.

How to identify

A white diving duck, the male Goosander has a dark green head, a black back and a long, red bill with a hook at the tip. The white sides and breast sometimes have a pink glow. The female is grey with a gingery or rufous brown head and a white throat.

Where to find it

Breeds on rivers in the north and west of Britain, winters on lakes and reservoirs.


When to find it

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

How can people help

Goosanders are excellent at fishing, but their diet, which includes Salmon and Trout, has brought them into conflict with fishermen making a living. The Wildlife Trusts work closely with fishermen, farmers, landowners and developers to ensure that our wildlife is both protected and provides a benefit to local people. Careful habitat management on local nature reserves is one way in which local Trusts are helping to provide areas where birds like the Goosander can thrive and avoid conflict. By volunteering for your local Trust you can help too, and you'll make new friends and learn new skills along the way.

Species information

Common name
Latin name
Mergus merganser
Length: 57-69cm Wingspan: 90cm Weight: 1.3-1.7kg Average Lifespan: 7 years
Conservation status