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Smew (S.Allen)

Smew - Stephen Allen

The Smew (Mergellus albellus), is a small duck, which is somewhat intermediate between the typical mergand the goldeneyes. It is the only member of the genus Mergellus; sometimes included in Mergus, this genus is distinct (though closely related) and might actually be a bit closer to the goldeneyes.

DescriptionEdit

The drake Smew, with its 'cracked ice' appearance, is unmistakable, and looks very black-and-white in flight. The females and immature males are grey birds with chestnut foreheads and crowns, and can be confused at a distance with the Ruddy duck; they are often known as "redhead" Smew. It has oval white wing-patches in flight. The Smew's bill has a hooked tip and serrated edges, which help it catch fish when it dives for them.

Distribution and ecologyEdit

This species breeds in the northern Taiga of Europe and Asia It needs trees for breeding. The Smew lives on fish-rich lakes and slow rivers. As a migrant it leaves its breeding areas and winters on sheltered coasts or inland lakes of the Baltic sea the Black sea northern Germany and the Low Countries, with small number reaching Great Britian (for example, at Dungesness), mostly at regular sites. Vagrants have been recorded in North America. On lakes it prefers areas around the edges, often under small trees.

The Smew breeds in May and lays 6–9 cream-colored eggs. It nests in tree holes, such as old woodpecker nests. It is a shy bird and flushes easily when disturbed.

GalleryEdit

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