If you see a long, low, slim duck with an impossibly large brook of young hurrying along a rocky shoreline in summer, it is likely to be this species. Aggressive females “kidnap” youngsters from less aggressive mothers, so that broods of 30 or more are accumulated.
At most localities and in most seasons this is the common merganser in Ontario, although the Red-breasted Merganser may outnumber it at the height of their spring and fall migrations.
The long, low profile and “sawbill” beak identify it as a merganser. females look a good deal like female Red-breasted Mergansers but are somewhat larger, have a less shaggy crest and may be distinguished by the round white spot on the chin, contrasting with the reddish head and neck.
Males lack the shaggy crest of the Red-breasted Merganser and show more white when resting on the water. In spring the white breast is suffused with a salmon pink “blush”.