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Birds Guide


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Sea Ducks
Smew (male)
Smew (male)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Anseriformes
Family: Anatidae
Subfamily: Merginae
Chendytes (extinct)
Camptorhynchus (extinct)

The seaducks, Merginae, form a subfamily of the duck, goose and swan family of birds, Anatidae.

As the name implies, most but not all, are essentially marine outside the breeding season. Many species have developed specialized salt glands to allow them to tolerate salt water, but these have not yet developed in young birds. Some of the mergansers prefer riverine habitats.

All but two of the 20 species in this group occupy habitats in far northern latitudes.

The fish-eating members of this group, such as the mergansers and Smew, have serrated edges to their bills to help them grip their prey. These are therefore often known as "sawbills".

Other seaducks take molluscs or crustaceans from the sea floor.

There are twenty living species in ten extant genera.

Subfamily Merginae

  • Genus Chendytes, the diving-geese. These birds became extinct in prehistoric times. They were large, goose-like ducks with reduced wings which were unfit for flying, but could assist in diving as in the Great Auk. At least one species survived to the Holocene.
    • Law's Diving-goose Chendytes lawi
  • Genus Polysticta
    • Steller's Eider Polysticta stelleri
  • Genus Somateria, the eiders. These are large marine ducks The drakes have body plumage showing varying amounts of black and white, and distinctive head patterns.Females are brown.
    • Common Eider Somateria mollissima
      Spectacled Eider Somateria fischeri
      King Eider Somateria spectabilis
  • Genus Histrionicus
    • Harlequin Duck Histrionicus histrionicus
  • Genus Camptorhynchus
    • Labrador Duck Camptorhynchus labradorius
  • Genus Melanitta, the scoters. These are stocky marine ducks. The drakes are mostly black and have swollen bills. Females are brown.
    • Common Scoter Melanitta nigra
      Black Scoter or American Scoter Melanitta americana (sometimes considered a subspecies of M. nigra)
      Velvet Scoter Melanitta fusca
      White-winged Scoter Melanitta deglandi (sometimes considered a subspecies of M. fusca)
      Surf Scoter Melanitta perspicillata
  • Genus Clangula
    • Long-tailed Duck or Oldsquaw Clangula hyemalis
  • Genus Bucephala, the goldeneyes. These are less marine than some species in this group, and will winter on fresh water. Drakes have white bodies with black backs and distinctive head markings. Females are grey with chestnut heads.
    • Common Goldeneye Bucephala clangula
      Barrow's Goldeneye Bucephala islandica
      Bufflehead Bucephala albeola
  • Genus Mergellus (sometimes included in Mergus)
    • Smew Mergellus albellus
  • Genus Lophodytes (sometimes included in Mergus)
    • Hooded Merganser Lophodytes cucullatus
  • Genus Mergus, the typical mergansers. These are the least marine of this group, only Red-breasted being common on the sea. These are large saw-billed ducks which dive for fish.
    • Brazilian Merganser Mergus octosetaceus
      Auckland Islands Merganser Mergus australis
      Red-breasted Merganser Mergus serrator
      Common Merganser or Goosander Mergus merganser
      Chinese Merganser Mergus squamatus

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| Bucorvinae
| Buphaginae
| Pseudochelidoninae
| Anatinae
| Anserinae
| Buteoninae
| Chordeilinae
| Drongo
| Euphoniinae
| Fantail
| Ground-hornbill
| Mancallinae
| Merginae
| Monarchinae
| Palaeeudyptinae
| Phaethornithinae
| Pseudochelidoninae
| Rhipidurinae
| Saxicolinae
| Tadorninae
| Vanellinae
| Woodcreeper

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This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.

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