Resident to medium-distance migrant. In eastern North America, many Hooded Mergansers move south and southwest in winter, but some actually migrate north to spend winters in the Great Lakes and southern Canada. Most of the Hooded Mergansers that breed in the upper Midwest migrate along the Mississippi River. Hooded Mergansers breeding west of the Rockies migrate west and south toward the Pacific. Hooded Mergansers are late fall migrants, sometimes moving just ahead of winter ice. In spring they arrive early at breeding grounds, within a few days of the ice melting.