Free Quiz Dabbling Ducks of BC CORE Hunter Education Course
Male wood ducks have a crested head that is iridescent green and purple with a white stripe leading from the eye to the end of the crest, and another narrower white stripe from the base of the bill to the tip of the crest. The throat is white and the chest is burgundy with white flecks, gradually grading into a white belly. The bill is brightly patterned black, white and red. The legs and feet are a dull straw yellow and the iris is red. Female wood ducks have a gray-brown head and neck with a brownish, green, glossed crest. A white teardrop shaped patch surrounds the brownish-black eye. The throat is white and the breast is gray-brown stippled with white, fading into the white belly. The back is olive brown with a shimmer of iridescent green. The bill is blue-gray and the legs and feet are dull grayish-yellow.
Male blue-winged teal have a slate gray head and neck, a black-edged white crescent in front of the eyes and a blackish crown. The breast and sides are tan with dark brown speckles and there is a white spot on the side of the rump. Most of the upper wing coverts are blue-gray, the secondaries form an iridescent green speculum and the underwing is whitish. The bill is black and the legs and feet are yellowish to orange. Female blue-winged teal have a brownish-gray head with a darker crown and eye stripe. The breast and sides are brown, the upper parts are olive brown, and the upper wing coverts are bluish, but less vibrant than the drake. The bill is gray-black and the legs and feet are dull yellow-brown. The female has a high-pitched squeak.
Both males and females have a bluish black-tipped bill. Male American wigeons have a white patch from the forehead to the middle of the crown and an iridescent green band from the eye to the back of the head. They have a pinkish-brown breast and sides that are separated from the black undertail coverts by white flank feathers. In flight, the white shoulder patch is diagnostic. The legs and feet are blue-gray to dark gray. Female American wigeons have a gray head with a brownish-black crown and brownish chest and sides. The legs and feet are blue-gray to dark gray.
Blue-winged teal are generally the first ducks south in the fall and the last north in the spring. They migrate from the Prairie Pothole Region to wintering areas in Florida, the Caribbean Islands, the Gulf Coast of Texas and Louisiana, Mexico and Central and South America. Wintering habitats are diverse, including mangrove swamps, fresh and brackish estuaries and shallow wetlands. In the United States, the highest winter densities occur in southern Texas and peninsular Florida. Blue-winged teal are common in winter from Central America, the Caribbean and South America south to Peru and northeastern Brazil. They also stay regularly in small numbers in the Galapagos Islands and are vagrants to Chile, southeastern Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina (Scott and Carbonell, 1986).
American Wigeon are among the earliest waterfowl to reach their wintering grounds. Wigeon in Alaska and western Canada migrate along the Pacific Flyway and winter around Puget Sound and into California. Birds that use the Central Flyway winter in the Texas panhandle and along the Texas and Louisiana coast of the Gulf of Mexico. Along the Mississippi Flyway, wetlands and lakes in eastern Arkansas and western Tennessee also provide important wintering habitat for wigeon. They use a variety of habitats in winter, including ponds, lakes and saline and brackish marshes with abundant aquatic vegetation. Wigeon also readily forage on grasses and sedges in wet meadows and pastures. American Wigeon are common winter visitors to Central America, the Caribbean, northern Colombia, Trinidad and occasionally Venezuela (Scott and Carbonell, 1986).
The mallard is one of the most recognized of all ducks and is the ancestor of several domestic breeds. Its wide range has given rise to several distinct populations. The male mallard's white neck-ring separates the green head from the chestnut-brown chest, contrasts with the gray sides, brownish back, black rump and black upper- and under-tail coverts. The speculum is violet-blue bordered by black and white, and the outer tail feathers are white. The bill is yellow to yellowish-green and the legs and feet are coral-red. The female mallard is a mottled brownish color and has a violet speculum bordered by black and white. The crown of the head is dark brown with a dark brown stripe running through the eye. The remainder of the head is lighter brown than the upper body. The bill is orange splotched with brown, and the legs and feet are orange.
Northern pintails are long, slender ducks with long, narrow wings, earning them the nickname "greyhound of the air." Pintails are named for their elongated central tail feathers, which constitute one-fourth of the drake's body length. Male northern pintails have a chocolate-brown head with a white stripe on each side of the neck extending up from the white breast and belly. The back is blackish-gray and the rump has a white patch on each side. Two of the long central tail feathers are black while the others are gray margined by white. In flight, an iridescent greenish-black speculum is displayed. The bill is blue-gray with a black stripe along the center to the tip, and the legs and feet are slate-gray. Female northern pintails have a dark-brown upper body with a buff or gray head and lower body. The speculum is a dull brown or bronze. The bill is blue-gray blotched with black, and the legs and feet are slate-gray.
Gadwalls are medium-sized ducks characterized by a general lack of bright coloration. Male gadwalls are gray-brown with a white belly and a black rump. In flight, a white speculum and chestnut and black portions on the wing coverts are displayed. The bill is slate-gray and the legs and feet are yellow. Female gadwalls are similar to males, but have a mottled brown appearance, a yellowish bill with dark spots and a smaller white speculum.
Green-winged teal are the smallest of our North American dabbling ducks with a short neck and small bill. Male green-winged teal have a chestnut head with an iridescent green to purple patch extending from the eyes to the nape of the neck. The chest is pinkish-brown with black speckles, and the back, sides and flanks are vermiculated gray, separated from the chest by a white bar. The wing coverts are brownish-gray with a green speculum. The bill is dark slate and the legs and feet are dark gray. Female green-winged teal are mottled brown with a dark brown line that extends from the bill through the eye. The bill is dark gray and the legs and feet are olive-gray to brownish-gray.
In the eastern and western United States, 30-75 percent of wood ducks are permanent residents. Migratory wood ducks use the Atlantic Flyway from New Brunswick to Georgia and south to eastern Texas and the West Indies. The western migratory birds use the Pacific Flyway from British Columbia to the Central Valley of California. Both populations winter over southern portions of their respective breeding ranges, with small numbers south to central Mexico. No clearly defined migratory path exists for interior birds, though they seem to converge south of Kentucky along the Mississippi River floodplain. Generally, wintering habitat differs little from habitats used at other times of the year. Wood ducks predominantly use forested wetlands with a variety of hardwood tree species. Wood ducks are resident in Cuba and are scarce winter visitors to Mexico and Bermuda. They occasionally winter in the Cayman Islands (Scott and Carbonell, 1986).
American Black Duck
American black ducks are similar to mallards in size, and resemble the female mallard in coloration, though the black duck's plumage is darker. The male and female black duck are similar in appearance, but the male's bill is yellow while the female's is a dull green. The head is slightly lighter brown than the dark brown body, and the speculum is iridescent violet-blue with predominantly black margins. In flight, the white underwings can be seen in contrast to the dark brown body.
Male cinnamon teal have a cinnamon-red head, neck, breast and belly. They have an iridescent green speculum, which is separated from a bluish shoulder patch by a white stripe. The back, rump, uppertail coverts and tail are a dull brown and the undertail coverts are black. They have a distinctive red eye, a black bill and yellow legs and feet. Female cinnamon teal are often confused with female blue-winged teal. They have a duller blue shoulder patch, an overall rustier color and are more heavily streaked.
Eurasian wigeons often can be found in the company of American Wigeons. The male's bright russet-red head, topped with a cream stripe, and its gray back and sides, distinguish it from its American cousin. Females of the two species are so similar that separation in the field is unreliable. However, adult female Eurasian wigeons have two color phases: gray and red. Females in reddish plumage have russet-brown heads, necks, chests, backs, sides and flanks, with a much redder tinge than female American wigeons. Male Eurasian Wigeon have a black-speckled russet-red neck and head topped with a cream stripe. The breast is grayish-pink and the lower breast, belly and sides of the rear body behind the flanks are white. The flanks are finely vermiculated and appear gray. In flight, a white shoulder patch and green speculum are displayed. The bill is blue-gray with a black tip and the legs and feet are blue-gray. Female Eurasian wigeon have gray-brown-to-russet-brown heads, necks, chests, backs, sides and flanks. The bill is blue-gray with a black tip and the legs and feet are blue-gray.
Share your Results: