basic information


Mergus merganser (Linnaeus, 1758)

Большой крохаль | Үлкен бейнарық

© Viktor Kolesnikov


Breeds in the mountains of Eastern and South-Eastern Kazakhstan and in Kokchetav upland. On migration occurs almost everywhere. Please see the detailed distribution in the section Subspecies.


Quite common breeding migrant. Inhabits lakes and rivers where fish are plentiful, both on steppe and in mountains to 1500-2000 m. Appears early before ice breaks in mid February or early March, but at Markakol lake sometimes as late as end of April or early May; migration finished by mid – end April. Birds fly singly, in pairs or in small flocks. Breed in separate pairs. Nest is built from dry grass lined with plenty of down near water, in tree holes, in cliffs between stones or on ground under bushes. Clutches of 8-15, usually 8-9 eggs in May – first half June. Female incubates about 32 days. Juveniles hatch as early as June, but mainly in first half of July. Sometimes several broods join with one female. Autumn migration is late; end September – October and continues until water freezes usually in November – mid December.


Mergus merganser merganser (Linnaeus, 1758)

    Description. Male in breeding plumage has darker upper parts; light stripes on rump are more conspicuous and sharper than in comatus; black edges on scapulars and inner secondaries are narrow, no more than 1.2 mm wide. Female head is dark chestnut. Male bill length 51-61 (57); female 40-52 (48) mm.
    Distribution. Breeds in Kokchetav uplands, in Kalbinskiy Altai at Sibinskiye lake, in Western and Southern Altai on Ulba and Bukhtarma rivers, on Saur, Tarbagatay and Dzhungarskiy Alatau ridges. Widespread on migration. Rare wintering on Irtysh river, Bukhtarma river, Markakol lake and lakes of southern and south-eastern Kazakhstan; in mild winters on the Aral Sea at Barsa-Kelmes.

Mergus merganser comatus (Salvadori, 1895)

    Description. Male in breeding plumage has lighter upper parts, light stripes on rump are more dense and a little less sharp than in merganser; black edges on scapulars are wide, reaching 2.2 mm. Female head is somewhat lighter. Male bill length 48-56 (51.5), female 40-47 (44) mm.
    Distribution. Breeds in Tien Shan, two broods recorded mid-June 2002 on Bartagoy reservoir.


Gavrilov E. I., Gavrilov A. E. "The Birds of Kazakhstan". Almaty, 2005. Э.И.Гаврилов. "Фауна и распространение птиц Казахстана". Алматы, 1999.



Mergus merganser merganser
(Linnaeus, 1758)
Mergus merganser comatus
(Salvadori, 1895)

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