Tag Archives: duck

Mallard – Anas platyrhynchos

Mallard – Anas platyrhynchos


The Mallard is widely found in most North America and Eurasia. They inhabit all kinds of wetlands mallard drakefrom large lakes to urban park ponds. Most of today’s domestic ducks are descendants of the Mallard. One problem throughout the world is that the mallard has been introduced, sometimes to the detriment of native species – and not just native ducks. So, there are places that the Mallard is considered invasive.

Mallards are know to crossbreed with multiple other species such as pintails and black ducks.1

Mallard eggs are creamy to greenish. The chicks hatch in about 23 – 30 days and fledge in 52 -70 days. The chicks are able to leave the nest in 1 day from hatching. Only the female incubates the eggs and takes care of the ducklings. Mallards frequently interbreed with their closest relatives such as the American Black Duck.

The Mallard is one of the most popular ducks for hunters. It has a lot to do with their large population and wide distribution. A popular method is to hunt over decoys. Mallard meat is mild and excellent to cook.


The drake mallard is 22″ – 26″ long, has a wingspan of 32″ – 39″ and weighs 2 – 4lbs. Females are slightly smaller.


The most prominent identifying feature of the male mallard is its iridescent green head with a white ring at the base of the neck. Its bill is yellow to green. The breast and sides are silvery white. The back is gray.

Female & Juveniles:
The female is mottled brown overall with a lighter breast and darker back. Her bill is orange with black blotches.

Both sexes have orange feet and legs. They have blue-violet speculums with white margins.

The biggest problem I have had is identifying female Mallards from the American Black Duck. The American Black Duck is darker and has no white borders to its purplish speculum and its tail is dark.


Mallards can be found in all wet areas – from marshes, lakes, agricultural lands to urban ponds


Mallards are the most widespread and abundant duck in North America. They breed from Alaska most of Canada, the USA and into Mexico. They migrate south to the Southern USA into Mexico. Many birds stay north and will migrate only when forced by iced rivers and lack of food.


Mallards eat mostly plant matter and can be seen in and around agricultural farms. They also eat insects and larvae and aquatic invertebrates. Mallards are dabblers, feeding at the surface of water often times tipping up in shallow water. They will also move to fields and feed on corn, rye and other agricultural grains.

1. Field & Stream November 2011 pg 4: Fowl Fusion by: T. Edward Nickens

Bufflehead – Bucephala albeola



The Bufflehead is the smallest North American diving duck. As of 2010 their population is steady. The Bufflehead nests in holes excavated by by other birds and often time by Northern Flickers


Bufflehead eggs are creamy-buff colored. The chicks hatch in approximately 29 – 31 days and fledge in 50 50 days.

Many Buffleheads are taken by hunters incidentally by hunters. These birds have a dark meat that can be strong tasting.


Adults are approximately 13″ – 16″ long with a wingspan of 24″.
Male  are black and white, with iridescent green and purple heads with a large white patch behind the eye.
Females are grey-toned with a smaller white patch behind the eye and a light underside


Breeds along freshwater ponds, slow rivers and small lakes. The picture was taken of a Bufflehead on the Mohawk River just outside of Schenectady, NY.


Buffleheads breed in much of Alaska, Canada and the Northwestern USA. Ninety percent of the population is believed to breed from Manitoba westward. When Buffleheads migrate they winter in coastal waters or open inland waters on the either coast of North America and the southern United States into Mexico.


The bird’s diet consists largely of fish and invertebrates with a lesser amount of plant material.

American Widgeon – Anas americana

American Widgeon

General: The American Widgeon is sometimes called a “Baldpate” American Widgeonbecause the white stripe resembles a bald man’s head. The population declined in the 1980’s as a result of drought. Since then they have steadily increased in numbers.
The American Widgeon builds its nest near water. The eggs are creamy white. The chicks hatch in 23-25 days and fledge in 37-48 days.
This bird is known to wait at the surface and steal vegetation from diving ducks as they surface.
Hunters enjoy hunting this dabbling duck, its meat is considered excellent.

Identification: The Widgeon is a decent sized bird roughly 18″ – 23″ with a wingspan of 34″.

The American Widgeon drake has a deep green streak running from its eye to the back of its head. The top of its head is white. its lower face and neck are streaked gray. The back, side and chest are pinkish-brown. In flight the male displays white shoulder patches.

Female and Juveniles: Head appears grayish overall, with finely-blended white and dusky streaks. Breast and flanks are pale reddish-brown; mantle is grayish-brown with some buff barring. Bill is small and grayish, with a black tip.

The American Widgeon is larger than a teal but smaller than a pintail, it’s a medium-size bird, In silhouette, the widgeon can be distinguished from other dabblers by its round head, short neck, and small bill

Habitat: American Widgeons can be found near and on marshes, ponds and shallow lakes. The Pictures here were taken in Spring during their migration north on the Mohawk River in Central New York. They had been feeding in a mowed corn field along with Mallards and Canada Geese.

Territory: Summers throughout most of Canada, Alaska, and the northern third of the United States. Winters along the North American coasts, the southern third of the United States, and Central America.

Diet: American Widgeons eat mostly aquatic plants, upland grasses and legumes. They also eat some insects and mollusks. The American Widgeon’s eats more vegetation than other dabbling ducks.

Double-crested Cormorant – Phalacrocorax auritus

Double-crested Cormorant


The Double-crested Cormorant is the most numerous and widespread North American cormorant. It can occur in large numbers inland as well as on the coast.

In upstate New York this cormorant has increased in numbers. Twenty years ago it was an infrequent site, nowDouble-crested Cormorant – Phalacrocorax auritus large colonies on the Great Lakes and large inland lakes has led to the concern about their predation on sport fish.Double-crested Cormorant

When on the water their bodies, as shown in the picture, are almost entirely submerged. When out of the water and perching they often spread their wings to dry.

The Double-crested Cormorant makes a bulky nest of sticks and other materials. In breeding colonies where the nests are placed on the ground, young cormorants leave their nests and congregate into groups.

The Double-crested cormorant egg is chalky blue. The chicks will hatch in 25-29 days and will fledge in 35-42 days


Double-crested Cormorant – Adult Description: They are large, dark bodied water birds – approximately 30″ to 35″. They have a long body and long neck. Double-crested Cormorant has a medium-sized bill hooked at tip. The throat pouch area is orange, extending straight down Double-crested Cormorantacross throat. It does have tufts on the top of its head – although not always evident.

Immature Description – Upper breast and throat pale. Chest variable from nearly whitish to dusky.

Habitat: Found in diverse aquatic habitats, such as ponds, lakes, rivers, lagoons, estuaries, and open coastline; more widespread in winter – always open water.


The Double-crested Cormorant breeds from Alaska to Newfoundland down to Mexico. It winters as far north as Long Island, NY and Southern Alaska.


Predominantly fish. Also some other aquatic animals, insects, and amphibians. The Double-crested cormorant is a Diving water bird. It chases prey underwater grabbing prey in its bill.

Patuxent Bird Identification Info Center
The Audubon Society – Field Guide to North American Birds (Eastern Region)
Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Green-Winged Teal – Anas crecca

Green-Winged Teal – Anas crecca

General: Green-Winged Teal, also known as the Common Teal, are the smallest of all North American puddle ducks with a short neck and small bill. They are a popular game bird. They are considered a challenging game bird, often swooping in to a decoy raft only to rise and fly off before a shot can be made. The Green-winged Teal population is steady and /or growing.

They nest near water, either in grasses or brush. The eggs are creamy white. The chicks hatch in about 21 – 23 days and can leave the nest soon after they hatch. They fledge in about another 34 days.
The meat of Green-Winged Teal is considered good to eat and mild in flavor.

Identification: General: As stated the Green-Winged teal is a small duck. They are about 12″ – 16″ long with a Wingspan of 24″, short-necked and small-billed.

Males: Alternate plumage worn from Fall through early summer, dark bill with a rich rust-colored head. Green-Winged TealIridescent green face patch sweeping through eye and tapering to the back of head. Chest is buff with dark spotting. The flanks are gray and back Vertical white line at fore part of flanks. Horizontal black line above flanks, buff outer under-tail coverts bordered by black. The central under-tail coverts are black.

Females & Juveniles: Dark gray bill, pale brown head and neck, dark brown cap and eye line. Dark brown back and upper wing coverts scalloped with buff, breast is white spotted with brown, the belly is white.

Habitat: Green-Winged Teal are found more commonly in marshes, ponds and marshy lakes.

Territory: The Green-Winged Teal’s northern range is from Northern Alaska and Aleutian Islands to Quebec south to New York and prairie states. They winter as far south as Central America and the west Indies.

Diet: Green-winged teal feed on seeds of sedges, smartweeds, pondweeds agricultural crops and grasses. To a lesser extent they eat aquatic insects, mollusks, crustaceans

Mallard duck information

Patuxent Wildlife Research Center