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Ducks of the Atlantic Flyway

Updated on July 11, 2015

North America's Atlantic Flyway

North America's Atlantic Flyway is a vital migration path for ducks such as mallards, black ducks, green-winged teal, blue winged teal, American widgeon, gadwall, pintail, wood ducks, canvasbacks, scaup, redheads, ring-necked ducks, ruddy ducks, bufflehead, shovelers, goldeneye, mergansers, oldsquaws and scoters.

In addition to ducks, the Atlantic Flyway is a vital migratory path for shorebirds, pelagic birds, and songbirds of North America's Atlantic coastal region.

A wide range of National and State parks are found along the Atlantic Flyway. These vital rest areas include Chincoteague Wildlife Refuge, Assateague National Seashore, Assateague State Park, Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, False Cape State Park, the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, and others.

A male (drake) wood duck
A male (drake) wood duck

What Are Puddle Ducks?

Many of the ducks of the Atlantic Flyway are often referred to as "puddle ducks". The term refers to ducks that prefer shallow marshes and rivers rather than open areas of lakes and bays. Some puddle ducks can dive, but usually prefer to feed by dabbling or tipping rather than diving for food. Puddle ducks consume mostly vegetable matter.

Northern Pintail

A pintail drake.
A pintail drake.

The northern pintail is one of North America's most recognizable puddle ducks; drakes have chestnut heads with a uniquely-shaped white blaze. Females are mostly brown but similar in shape to their mates.

Waterfowl Art

In North America, birdwatchers, nature lovers and sportsmen often choose waterfowl artwork and collectibles. One online source for waterfowl art and gifts is North America online store. The store includes an extensive collection of duck, goose and waterfowl art. Waterfowl photographs, illustrations, line art and other designs are available on t-shirts, sweatshirts, hats, coffee mugs, buttons, magnets, stickers, postcards, notecards, mousepads and other collectibles. 

Atlantic Flyway Art Poll

What is your favorite type of Atlantic Flyway art?

See results

Mallard Ducks

A mallard drake.
A mallard drake.

Shoveler Ducks

A shoveler drake.
A shoveler drake.

National Waterfowl Week

An important Atlantic Flyway event is National Waterfowl Week. In several parks and refuges along the migration path, special events provide rare access to ducks, geese and other wildlife.

Areas such as Chincoteague Wildlife Refuge, Assateague National Seashore and Assateague State Park are located near Baltimore Maryland, Washington DC.

For birdwatchers near Hampton Roads Virginia, the Seashore to Cypress Birding Trail offers birdwatching opportunities. The trail links locations such as First Landing State Park, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, False Cape State Park, the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center, and the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge.


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    • profile image

      jason foraker 

      9 years ago

      wrapping up the 2011 2012 season live on md eastershore did really well on mallards and green wing teal this year plenty of woodies too

    • Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

      Pamela Dapples 

      10 years ago from Arizona now

      Nice article. I love ducks. My parents live in Saskatchewan next to one of the four biggest flyways in Canada -- Chaplin, SK.

      I like your photos, too.

    • pollyprescription profile image


      10 years ago

      Aren't they beautiful (:

    • profile image

      Marie Leonard 

      10 years ago

      Loved your photos! I've spent much time in the Chincoteague Wildlife Refuge and the Assateague National Seasshore.


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