Mottled Duck

The male and female mottled duck (Anas fulvigula) look about the same—unremarkable. Either one of them could easily be dismissed as just another female mallard, when in reality they are rare finds inland. So note the details. The mottled duck has a buffy tan head and throat, contrasting with the mottled brown body that gives…


The mallard (Anas platrhynchos) is a duck that most will recognize readily. The yellow bill, green head, white neck ring, chestnut breast, gray sides, orange legs, and black tail curls of the male are familiar sights across the country. In flight, notice his white belly. The female is less conspicuous. She is mottled brown overall….

American Black Duck

The American black duck (Anas rubripes) is the darkest of the dabbling ducks. At first glance, it is easily dismissed as a particularly dark female of just about any duck species. But if you manage to get a good look, notice its intricately patterned feathers, dark brown-black with paler edges. Also note the relatively light-colored…

American Wigeon

The male American wigeon is fairly distinctive, but the wary female can present an identification challenge.

Eurasian Wigeon

Although not common in the United States, the Eurasian wigeon has been seen in several Kansas counties.


Identifying the quiet, nondescript gadwall requires a close attention to field marks.

Wood Duck

The gaudy male wood duck (Aix sponsa) is a sight not readily forgotten. Its head shines an iridescent green, except where crossed by bold white lines on the crest or extending in a U shape from the throat. Its eyes are bright red, while its bill is an interesting combination of yellow, red, white, and…

Fulvous Whistling-Duck

Although it’s called a duck, the fulvous whistling-duck (Dendrocygna bicolor) is remarkably gooselike, with its large body and long, gangling legs and neck.  On the other hand, it is far more striking in appearance than many geese.  Most of its body is a tawny cinnamon color (fulvous), contrasting with a black stripe running down the…

5 Gifts for Birdwatchers

Is there a special birdwatcher in your life? You know, that person who never travels without binoculars and who remembers a location by that rare bird he added to his life list while visiting? Here are a few ways to bring a smile to his face this Christmas: Backyard Bird Feeder’s Bible: Every birdwatcher needs…

Black-Bellied Whistling-Duck

Even though it’s called a duck, the black-bellied whistling-duck (Dendrocygna autumnalis) is built more like a goose, with its tall stature enhanced by a particularly long neck and pair of legs.  Both males and females are strikingly patterned.  Their bodies are rusty chestnut overall, accented with black on the belly, flanks, and rump.  Their faces…