AskDefine | Define smew

Dictionary Definition

smew n : smallest merganser and most expert diver; found in northern Eurasia [syn: Mergus albellus]

User Contributed Dictionary



smew (plural smews)
  1. A small compact diving duck, Mergus albellus, that breeds in the northern taiga of Europe and Asia and winters on sheltered coasts or inland lakes.


Extensive Definition

The Smew (Mergellus albellus) is a small duck which is intermediate between the mergansers and the goldeneyes, and has interbred with the Common Goldeneye. It is the only member of the genus Mergellus (Selby, 1840).


The drake Smew, with its 'cracked ice' appearance, is unmistakable, and looks very black-and-white in flight. The females and immature males are grey birds with chestnut foreheads and crowns, and can be confused at a distance with the Ruddy Duck; they are often known as "redhead" Smew. It has oval white wing-patches in flight. The Smew's bill has a hooked tip and serrated edges, which help it catch fish when it dives for them.


This species breeds in the northern taiga of Europe and Asia. It needs trees for breeding. The Smew lives on fish-rich lakes and slow rivers. As a migrant it leaves its breeding areas and winters on sheltered coasts or inland lakes of the Baltic Sea, the Black Sea, northern Germany and the Low Countries, with small number reaching Great Britain (for example, at Dungeness), mostly at regular sites. On lakes it prefers areas around the edges, often under small trees.


The Smew breeds in May and lays 6-9 creme-colored eggs. It nests in tree holes, such as old woodpecker nests. It is a shy bird and flushes easily when disturbed.
The Smew is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies.




  • , Database entry includes justification for why this species is of least concern

External links

smew in Bulgarian: Малък нирец
smew in Czech: Morčák bílý
smew in Welsh: Lleian Wen
smew in German: Zwergsäger
smew in French: Harle piette
smew in Western Frisian: Lytse Seachbek
smew in Italian: Mergellus albellus
smew in Lithuanian: Mažasis dančiasnapis
smew in Hungarian: Kis bukó
smew in Dutch: Nonnetje (vogel)
smew in Japanese: ミコアイサ
smew in Norwegian: Lappfiskand
smew in Polish: Tracz bielaczek
smew in Northern Sami: Gárggogoalsi
smew in Finnish: Uivelo
smew in Swedish: Salskrake
smew in Turkish: Sütlabi
smew in Ukrainian: Луток
smew in Vietnamese: Vịt mào
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