The drake Smew is a small duck with a 'cracked ice' appearance that 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 have 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.
They breed in the trees of northern Europe and Asia and live on fish-rich lakes and slow rivers. As a migrant they leave breeding areas and winter on sheltered coasts or inland lakes of the Baltic Sea, the Black Sea and northern Germany.
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