Red-breasted merganser

Islet nester

Red-breasted merganser, photo Eero Haapanen

The red-breasted merganser (Mergus serrator) is a summer visitor in Finland. It is a more maritime bird than the goosander, which is also called the common merganser.

The red-breasted merganser nests in middle and outer archipelagos, preferring rocky islets over forested islands. It nests late in the year, with the chicks typically hatching in late July. The females have a tendency to collect ducklings from other females, sometimes resulting in broods consisting of dozens of ducklings.

In Helsinki the red-breasted merganser is so rare that this amusing phenomenon is a rare sight. Broods can typically be spotted on the shores of Santahamina, Vuosaari and Lauttasaari. The red-breasted merganser populations of Helsinki’s archipelago and Finland have declined notably. Nesting in rock crevices and under juniper shrubs, red-breasted mergansers are easy pray for minks.