Smew Mergellus albellus   [Linnaeus, 1758]

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Order: Anseriformes Family: Anatidae
BTO Codes: SY, SMEW. EURING No: 2200
Number in Britain: 180 birds (Winter)
Conservation Status:
European: 3 Concern, most not in Europe; Declining
Global: (Details)
Status in UK: (A)  Winter Visitor
Subspecies: Monotypic
Length: 41 cm Wingspan: 62 cm Weight: M: 700 g   F: 580 g    
Scientific name from: L.: little Merganser and L.: albus=white
World Distribution: BREEDS n Eurasia, WINTERS: south to Mediterranean Sea, India, e China
Habitat: Lakes, ponds, on migration also seacoasts
Diet: Summer, mostly insects, winter, mostly fish, mainly by diving
Identification Tips:
  Images from IBC or search flickr
  Videos from IBC
  Sound from xeno-canto
Crossley ID photos

Population and Distribution

Population Trend: No population trend available
Distribution: Atlas Mapstore   
British Population Size:
    Winter: 180 individuals in 2004/05 - 2008/09
    First Record: 1666 [Fossil evidence from Middle Pleistocene, c. 500,000 yr ago]
    Conservation Status: AMBER because Species of European Concern, Small Non-breeding Population,
   Previous Assessments: 2002-2007 GREEN     1996-2001 GREEN  
   Races of Concern:
Habitat Occupancy (in the Breeding Season):
    No habitat data from BBS
European Population Size:
    Summer: 1300 to 2 thousand pairs
Population Assesment from Birds in Europe
Distribution in Europe mapped by the EBCC Atlas
Listed on the Appendices/Schedules of: WBD(I), Bern(III), Bonn(II), AEWA
Survey Results:

Breeding and Survival

Egg Size: 53 x 38 mm Egg Weight: 42.0 g (of which 9 % is shell)
Number of Nest Records: 0
Clutch Size: 7 - 9 eggs
Incubation: 26- 28 days   by the: Female
Fledging: Unavailable as: Precocial, downy
First Clutches Laid: Does not breed in Britain, or too few Nest Records
Number of Broods: 1
Number Ringed: Annual Totals
Adult Survival: No data
Juvenile Survival: No data
Age at First Breeding: Typical Lifespan: No data
Maximum Recorded Age: Too few birds ringed
Read a summary of Ringing Recoveries


Ring Size: Check with Ringing Unit
Wing Length Adult: Insufficient Data
Juvenile: Insufficient Data
Male: Insufficient Data
Female: Insufficient Data
Weight Adult: Insufficient Data
Juvenile: Insufficient Data
Male: Insufficient Data
Female: Insufficient Data

Other Names

Previously Mergus albellus
Gaelic: Sěolta-bhreac Welsh: Lleian Wen
Danish: Lille skallesluger Dutch: Nonnetje
Finnish: Uivelo French: Harle piette
German: Zwergsäger Hungarian: Kis bukó
Icelandic: Hvítönd Irish: Síolta Gheal
Italian: Pesciaiola Norwegian: Lappfiskand
Polish: Bielaczek Portuguese: Merganso-pequeno
Spanish: Serreta chica Swedish: Salskrake
Local Names: White Nun (m) Redhead (f)

For More Information...

Books and Monographs:
   Kear, J 2005 Ducks, geese and swans Oxford University Press [598.48 KEA]
   Cabot, D. 2009 Wildfowl Collins, London
See Also:
Find scientific papers on Google Scholar or Scirus by clicking the icon
Wikipedia entry
HBW account (subscription required)
BirdLife species page
Recent sightings and information from BirdGuides