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Duck Identification Guide: All the Types of Ducks With Pictures

Duck Identification Guide: All the Types of Ducks With Pictures
When we think of ducks, we mostly picture the mallard ducks or those that are found in local ponds. However, know that there are many types of ducks, and BirdEden categorizes them accompanied by their identification features and pictures to help you understand them well.
Raksha Kulkarni
Last Updated: Feb 24, 2018
Did You Know?
Ducks can swim in the water even when the weather is freezing. They have no nerves or blood vessels in their feet. Hence, they never feel hot or cold.
Ducks belong to the Anatidae family of birds. Swans and geese also belong to the same family but are not considered as ducks. Ducks are small or medium-sized water birds, also called waterfowls. They feed on plants, insects, and small fish in the water or around water bodies. They are very adaptable, which shows in their presence in every continent, except Antarctica.
Their body has many features that make them adaptable. Their bill has water filtering features that drain the unnecessary water without their food falling down. Their webbed feet help them in paddling or swimming in water. They are preys to many predators like big birds, crocodiles, snakes, foxes, etc.
Dabbling ducks
Dabbling ducks belong to the Anatinae subfamily. These ducks have a distinct feature wherein their legs are positioned in the middle of their underside. Hence, these ducks can balance themselves properly when they are upside-down in the water. They go upside-down, instead of diving, to eat insects or weeds. The position of their legs also help them to walk on land. They have long, tapered wings that make it easy for them to fly just by jumping out of the water and flapping their wings. These birds are mostly seen in shallow waters and float high on the surface of water.
American Black Duck
American Black Duck
Scientific name: Anas rubripes
Region: Northeastern America and Bahamas
Appearance: Dark brown body, black line near eyes, orange feet. The male has a yellow bill, and a female has a dull green bill.
American Wigeon
American Wigeon
Scientific name: Anas americana
Region: Southwest America and North America
Female: Chestnut breast, grayish brown body, gray-colored head, and a small, black-tipped gray bill.
Male: Pinkish-brown back and breast with a green patch from the eyes to nape and a small, black-tipped white bill.
Eurasian Wigeon
Eurasian Wigeon
Scientific name: Anas penelope
Region: Africa, Asia, Europe, and rare in North America
Female: Brown body and a small-tipped light bill.
Male: The non-breeding male looks like the female. But the breeding male has white belly, gray back, and chestnut head with a small, black-tipped light bill.
Green-winged Teal
Green-winged Teal
Scientific name: Anas carolinensis
Region: North America
Female: Mottled brown body with dark eye-line.
Male: Green eye-patch, chestnut head, and gray back.
Cinnamon Teal
Cinnamon Teal
Scientific name: Anas cyanoptera
Region: Western US
Female: Mottled brown body, pale brown head, and brown eyes.
Male: Cinnamon-red head, neck, breast and belly; brown back, red eyes, yellow legs, and a black bill.
Scientific name: Anas strepera
Region: Europe, Africa, Asia, and North America
Female: Brown body with a white belly and a dark orange-edged bill.
Male: Non-breeding male resembles the female. The breeding male has gray body with chestnut wings and a white speculum.
Mottled Duck
Mottled Duck
Scientific name: Anas fulvigula
Region: Southeast North America
Appearance: Dark mottled body, light-colored head and neck with orange legs. A green wing patch is seen in both male and female.
Female: Bill is deep or pale orange.
Male: Bill is yellow.
Northern Pintail
Northern Pintail
Scientific name: Anas acuta
Region: Africa, Asia, North America, and Europe
Female: Whole body is brown in color.
Male: Brown head and neck, white breast, and a tail longer than the female.
Northern Shoveler
Northern Shoveler
Scientific name: Anas clypeata
Region: Asia, Europe, North America and rare in Australia
Female: Body is mottled brown with a long orange bill tinged with gray.
Male: Breeding male has greenish-black head, chestnut belly, white breast, yellow eyes and a black bill. Non-breeding male looks like female but is slightly dark.
Mallard pair
Scientific name: Anas platyrhynchos
Region: Australia, Africa, Asia, Europe and America
Female: Mottled brown and black eye-line.
Male: The breeding male has a green head, white collar, gray wings, brown breast and yellowish-orange bill tipped black. The non-breeding ones resemble the female.
Perching ducks belong to the subfamily Cairininae or Cairinini. These ducks are given the name due to their quality of perching on trees. They have qualities of both a shelduck and a dabbling duck. They are often found in inland water sources. They have long claws on their toes.
Wood Duck
Wood Duck
Scientific name: Aix sponsa
Region: Caribbean and North America
Female: Yellow and white eye-ring, a stripe running back from the eye and a gray body.
Male: Breeding male is chestnut and green with white stripes. Non-breeding male resembles the female but without the white eye-ring.
Mandarin Duck
Mandarin Duck
Scientific name: Aix galericulata
Region: Asia, Europe, and North America
Female: Gray body, white eye-ring and a stripe running back from the eye, a pale bill with a white tip.
Male: Red green face, purple breast with two white lines, and two orange lines at the back.
Muscovy Duck
Muscovy Duck
Scientific name: Cairina moschata
Region: North, Central and South America.
Appearance: Black or white body and red skin on the beak and near the eyes.
A bufflehead walking on water
Scaup diving
A scaup diving
Diving ducks belong to the subfamily Aythyinae. These ducks dive in the water completely to get food. These feed on snails and other insects. Their body is designed in a different way. They have legs located near the rear side, which help them swim underwater. They also have smaller wings that reduces their weight while under the water. They have a different technique to fly. They can't fly by jumping off the water. They have to walk or hop on water until they can finally fly. Also, diving ducks are mostly found in deep waters where it is seen that the ducks often float low where only their neck and little bit of their back is seen.
Scientific name: Aythya valisineria
Region: North America
Female: Brown head, neck and breasts; black bill and grayish-brown upper parts.
Male: Chestnut head and neck; and white back with lines (like a canvas).
Common Merganser (Goosander)
Scientific name: Mergus merganser
Region: Asia, Europe, and North America
Female: The female and the non-breeding male have reddish-brown head, gray back and underparts, and a white neck.
Male: Black body and a white neck.
Hooded Merganser
Hooded Merganser
Scientific name: Lophodytes cucullatus
Region: North America
Female: Brown body (darker on top), brown eyes, and reddish head with crest.
Male: Black head, white side patch, black back, red-brown sides, white breast with a black stripe and yellow eyes.
Redhead duck
Scientific name: Aythya americana
Region: Asia and North America
Female: Brown body, dark blue bill tipped with black and white ring around the eyes.
Male: Red neck, black breasts, blue bill and yellow eyes.
Ring-necked duck
Ring-necked Duck
Scientific name: Aythya collaris
Region: North America and rare in South America and Europe.
Female: Brown body with gray-brown head, white ring near the tip of the bill and a white ring around the eyes.
Male: Shiny black body with gray sides and white ring near the tip of the bill.
Ruddy duck
Ruddy Duck
Scientific name: Oxyura jamaicensis
Region: Europe and America
Female: Gray face, gray-brown body and darker cheek and bill.
Male: Rust-red body, white face, black cap and neck with a blue bill.
Lesser Scaup
Lesser Scaup
Scientific name: Aythya affinis
Region: America and Asia
Appearance: Rounded head, yellow eyes, and bluish bill.
Female: Dark brown head and back, white above the bill and light brown breast.
Male: Almost black with white sides and gray back with lines.
Greater Scaup
Greater Scaup
Scientific name: Aythya marila
Region: Asia, Africa, North America and Europe
Appearance: More rounded heads and larger bills than the lesser scaup.
Female: Dark brown head and back, light brown breasts, and white above the bill.
Male: Black with white sides and gray back with lines.
Sea ducks belong to the Merginae subfamily. As the name suggests, these are found in marine waters, but they are said to be diving ducks because of their diving quality. Some sea ducks can tolerate seawater because they have developed salt glands.
Common Goldeneye
Common Goldeneye
Scientific name: Bucephala clangula
Region: Europe and northern part of North America
Female: Brown head, light gray breasts, gray back and tail, and black bill.
Male: Black back, white underparts, oval white spots on cheek and back and a black bill.
Barrow's Goldeneye
Barrow's Goldeneye
Scientific name: Bucephala islandica
Region: Iceland and northern part of North America
Female: Brown head, gray back and tail, light gray breasts, yellow bill, and yellowish eyes.
Male: Black back, white underparts, white spots on cheek and back, golden eyes and a black bill.
Common Eider
Common Eider
Scientific name: Somateria mollissima
Region: Asia, Europe and North America
Female: Brown in color
Male: Black and white body with a green nape.
King Eider
King Eider
Scientific name: Somateria spectabilis
Region: Asia, Europe and North America
Female: Mottled brown and a white arc above the eye.
Male: A multicolored head, white body, and black belly.
Surf Scoter
Surf Scoter
Scientific name: Melanitta perspicillata
Region: Europe and North America
Female: Brown with pale head patch.
Male: Black body with white nape and forehead along with a beautiful orange, white, black bill.
Long-tailed duck
Long-tailed duck (Oldsquaw)
Scientific name: Clangula hyemalis
Region: Asia, Europe and north coasts of North America.
Female: Winter females have white head and neck with a dark crown. Summer females have brown upper parts and light wings.
Male: Winter males have a white head and neck with a dark cheek patch. Summer males have a dark neck, wings and breasts, dark head with white face, and a dark gray bill with a pink band.
Harlequin Duck
Harlequin Duck
Scientific name: Histrionicus histrionicus
Region: Greenland and North America
Female: Brownish-gray upper body and gray lower body with few spots on the head.
Male: Males have white marks on the head, breast, and back. It has a blue-back head and chestnut sides.
Bufflehead duck
Scientific name: Bucephala albeola
Region: North America
Female: Grayish-brown, darker upper part, and oval white behind the eye.
Male: Black on front of the neck and back, white on backside of neck, breast, and underparts.
They belong to the subfamily Dendrocygninae. As the name suggests, they have this unique whistling call. These birds have long necks and legs.
Fulvous Whistling Duck
Fulvous Whistling Duck
Scientific name: Dendrocygna bicolor
Region: Africa, South Asia and America
Appearance: Gray bill, wings and back; dark line down the neck, reddish-tinge on the flanks and a buffhead.
Black-bellied Whistling Duck
Black-bellied Whistling Duck
Scientific name: Dendrocygna autumnalis
Region: America
Appearance: Long red bill, white eye-ring, chestnut brown back, breast, and black belly. Juveniles have a gray bill.
These are not the only birds in each category. There are many more. Swans and Geese belong to a different subfamily, hence are not considered as ducks. Identifying waterfowls is not an easy task. But practice makes a man perfect, they say! So, happy birding!
Eider Duck
Plumed Whistling Duck
ducks in a row
Northern Pintail in Flight
Northern Pintail Ducks