Common mergansers are an extremely social species. They prefer to be in groups of up to 75 individuals. Although the nest sites are rather isolated, females sometimes nest fairly close to other females or sometimes in the same tree. This can result in the intermixing of eggs to create large nests with up to 40 eggs. When the eggs hatch, the young will follow the two or more females who laid the eggs.


Common mergansers are generally silent birds. However, males will engage in courtship noises including hoarse croaking sounds and guitar-like sounds. Like the males, females will only vocalize during courtship interactions or to signal danger.


It is approximated that the average life span for male common mergansers is 12 years and 6 months. The average life span for females is slightly longer at 13 years and 10 months.


Common mergansers will fly individually, in pairs, or in small flocks. When the small flocks are flying high in the air, the birds will fly in the characteristic "V" formation. When flying close to the water, the birds will form a straight line. The average speed common mergansers fly is about 43.5 mph. While in flight, the birds hold their head, body, and feet in one horizontal line. Female common mergansers are excellent at flying in and out of tress in search of nesting sites. However, common mergansers generally will fly either high in the air or low along the water.





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University of Wisconsin - La Crosse