The common merganser (Mergus merganser) belongs to the duck family and is about 66 cm long. It is a specialist among fish catchers! This bird is slender and it has along, narrow, red beak. Its feet are also red in color. The drakes and the ducks are clearly distinguishable from each other during courtship (autumn - spring). With their black-green head, black back and loose hackle, the males stand out clearly from the females. They are predominantly brown, possessing a deep brown head and white throat. The nape of the neck of the females is shaggy pronounced. In summer, males also wear plain plumage. The male can be distinguished from the female by the white arm coverts.
Goosanders winter on the North Sea and Baltic Sea coasts as well as on ice-free inland waters. In addition to their breeding grounds in Scandinavia, there are also smaller relicts of their breeding grounds in the Alps, including in the Tiroler Lech Nature Park. During the breeding season, the Goosanders seek out waters rich in fish with old tree stands. This already points to a peculiarity of this bird. Many duck birds lay their nests on the ground. But not the common merganser! It is a cavity nester and uses tree hollows or rock crevices and sometimes even nest boxes for this purpose. Only the female is responsible for raising the young. She lays 7 - 14 eggs. Soon after hatching, the still flightless young leave the nest with an extremely daring leap into the water.
Goosanders hunt fish that can reach a size of 5 - 15 cm.
The slender bill, equipped with saw-toothed horn tips, serves as an optimal tool for energetic underwater hunting. When the mergansers go hunting, they locate their prey with their heads submerged and swim after it very agilely. They can stay under water for up to 40 seconds.
In the past, the Goosander was considered a pest and was hunted. Due to protective regulations, the population of the Goosander has recovered in the Alps.