Smew is a small merganser found in Europe and Asia. In North America,
small numbers regularly show up in the western Aleutian Islands of Alaska in
migration and in winter, but they are very rare vagrants elsewhere in North
America. Males show a brilliantly white plumage with interspersed dark
markings, while females are more similar to other female Mergansers.
Habitat: During the summer breeding season, Smew
are found on lakes and slow-moving rivers. They require habitat with
trees near water bodies, with cavities in trees used for nesting. They
can be found in a variety of aquatic habitats in migration and in winter
where ample prey fish are available.
Diet: Diet during migration and in winter
primarily consists of small fish. During the summer breeding season
the diet typically expands to include large numbers of aquatic insects and
insect larvae, mollusks and crustaceans, small fish, small amphibians, and
some plant material, primarily the roots, leaves, and seeds of aquatic or
Nesting: The nest of a Smew is in a cavity in a
tree, often an old woodpecker hole. .
Behavior: Smew feed by diving and swimming
underwater. They are gregarious outside of the breeding season,
often seen foraging in small flocks.
Migration: The Smew's summer breeding grounds are
taiga areas in northern Europe and Asia. Overwinters in
scattered locations in more temperate parts of Europe and Asia.
Males are distinctive. Females may possibly be confused with other Merganser