The northern shoveler (Spatula clypeata) is named for its odd-looking bill, accentuated by a sloping forehead. Although this appendage makes the duck look slightly ridiculous, it has its uses. Over 100 bristles line the edges of the bill. The result looks and acts something like a comb that the shoveler can use as a filter…… Continue reading Northern Shoveler
The male cinnamon teal (Spatula cyanoptera) is an unusual bird, unlikely to be confused with any other duck. He is mostly deep red from his eyes to his body. This red color is neatly trimmed at both ends with black, the oversized bill being blue-black and the tail being pure black. In the early fall,…… Continue reading Cinnamon Teal
This migratory duck is sure to delight with its unique pattern and aerial acrobatics.
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…… Continue reading Mottled Duck
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.…… Continue reading Mallard
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…… Continue reading American Black Duck
The male American wigeon is fairly distinctive, but the wary female can present an identification challenge.
The male Eurasian wigeon (Mareca penelope) sports a distinctive look. His head is marked by contrast, thanks to his red-brown face, buffy cap, and blue-gray bill. But the remainder of his body is not less striking. His breast is a deep pink. At a distance, his back and sides may appear to be gray overall,…… Continue reading Eurasian Wigeon
The gadwall (Mareca strepera) is among the most plain-looking of American ducks. The male appears gray overall, an impression created by white feathers barred with black. The scapular feathers have a reddish-brown cast. Probably the most striking feature of the male gadwall is his solid black rump. His bill is also dark-colored. The female gadwall…… Continue reading Gadwall
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…… Continue reading Wood Duck