This male Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator) was recently sent to us from a rehabilitation group in Arizona that was unfamiliar with the species and lacked appropriate water caging. “The bird was found to have a fractured clavicle, a wound on its wing and foot lesions,” says Michelle Bellizzi, center manager of International Bird Rescue’s San Francisco Bay center. “The foot lesions were likely the result of captivity. It was the fractured clavicle and wing injury that brought it into care.” After several weeks of rehabilitation at our center, this bird was released nearby.
The Red-breasted Merganser is one of three species of mergansers in North America. Known for their thin, serrated bills to catch fish prey, Red-breasted Mergansers are “bold world traveler[s], plying icy waters where usually only scoters and eiders dare to tread,” 10,000 Birds notes. “While all mergansers are swift fliers, the Red-breast holds the avian record for fastest level-flight at 100 mph.”
A close-up of the Red-breasted Merganser’s serrated, “toothy” bill. Photo by Dr. Rebecca Duerr.
Below, the merganser is released back into the wild.