As ducks go this is big but it is not the biggest sawbill (ducks that eat fish and have saw edges to their bills) as the Goosander is almost half as heavy again. It is long necked, fine billed and a diver.
Superficially the drake seems to have black and white plumage but most of the black is actually very dark bottle green and much of the white is dove grey. There is a chestnut band round the lower breast. The females are brown but all show a white panel in the wing in flight. They nest on the shore and along upland streams.
It is persecuted by fishermen in many areas for perceived damage to game fish stocks but it seems unlikely that they have any effect - small fish are taken. It breeds round the whole of the Northern Hemisphere and winters along coasts South to Mexico, the Mediterranean and China. The British and Irish breeding population is probably almost 3,000 pairs and increasing.
The medium-sized sawbill and often on the sea.
Length 550 mm Closed wing 235 mm Weight 1000 gms
A Bird On! Sketch by Chris Mead
Copyright © 1996 by Jacobi Jayne & Company and Chris Mead