Belongs to: diving ducks

Smew Mergus albellus

BoCC Amber list

Best time to see: Nov to mid Mar

Key facts

Compact saw-billed duck: male white with black markings; female smaller and greyer

Habitat: freshwater lakes and reservoirs

Annual winter visitor to UK from its breeding grounds in Scandinavia


Male mainly white body with black marking and black eye patch; female greyish and black with chestnut head patches; 43 cm

Dives frequently to feed on fish; ungainly waddle when walking

Laboured take-off from water but strong and powerful in flight

  • Main photo

Photo © David Harrison