This species breeds in the northern taiga of Europe and Asia and winters on sheltered coasts or inland lakes. It nests in tree holes, such as old woodpecker nests. The Smew's bill has a hooked tip and serrated edges, which help it catch fish when it dives for them.
The Smew is shy and flushes easily when disturbed.
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.
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