|Harlequin duck, Histrionicus histrionicus (male)|
The sea ducks (Mergini) are a tribe of the duck subfamily of birds, the Anatinae. The taxonomy of this group is incomplete. Some authorities separate the group as a subfamily, while others remove some genera. Most species within the group spend their winters near coastal waters. Many species have developed specialized salt glands to allow them to tolerate salt water, but these are poorly developed in juveniles. Some of the species prefer riverine habitats. All but two of the 22 species in this group live in far northern latitudes.
The fish-eating members of this group, such as the mergansers and smew, have serrated edges to their bills to help them grip their prey and are often known as "sawbills". Other sea ducks forage by diving underwater, taking molluscs or crustaceans from the sea floor. The Mergini take on the eclipse plumage during the late summer and molt into their breeding plumage during the winter.
There are twenty-two species in ten genera:
Below is a phylogeny based on a mitogenomic study of the placement of the Labrador duck and the diving "goose" Chendytes lawi.
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