I was lucky enough to get some great wildlife photos of a Hooded Merganser. I consulted with my friend and accomplished bird photographer, Mia McPherson, to determine the identification of these photos I had taken. I needed her expertise to determine whether the bird in the photo was a female Hooded Merganser or an immature individual. Mia confirmed that it was indeed an immature bird. I later discovered that she had a blog post titled “Females And First Winter Male Hooded Mergansers,” which provides detailed information about distinguishing between these two types of birds.

In the second photo, the Hooded Merganser is stretching. It’s a beautiful bird, and I’m glad I was able to get these photos of it.

Hooded Merganser On A Log

Hooded Merganser On A Log

Hooded Merganser Stretching

Hooded Merganser Stretching

The difference between a female Hooded Merganser and an immature Hooded Merganser lies primarily in their plumage and overall appearance. Here are the key distinguishing characteristics:

Female Hooded Merganser:

  1. Plumage: Adult female Hooded Mergansers have a grayish-brown body with a distinct black-and-white pattern on their heads. Their crests are cinnamon-colored.
  2. Body Size: Females are slightly larger than males, measuring around 16-18 inches in length.
  3. Eye Color: Females have yellow eyes.

Immature Hooded Merganser:

  1. Plumage: Immature Hooded Mergansers display a mottled brownish-gray plumage overall. They have a similar black-and-white head pattern to adults, but it may be less defined and more variable.
  2. Body Size: Juveniles are typically smaller and less fully developed compared to adults.
  3. Eye Color: Immature possess dark brown or amber eyes.

These differences in plumage, size, and eye color allow observers to distinguish between female and immature Hooded Mergansers.

Gear Used:

  • Camera: Canon EOS R7
  • Lens: Canon RF 800 mm F11


These two photos were taken at the Sally Jones Causeway, which is located at the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma. I was able to take both photos from inside my pickup truck parked on the roadway.

  • Location: Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge (Oklahoma)
  • Date and Time Taken: May 23, 2023 (08:53 A. M.)
  • Exposure Mode: Manual
  • Aperture: f11
  • Shutter speed: 1/1250
  • ISO: 1250 (Auto)
  • Exp. Comp.: -0.7
  • Focal Length: 800 mm