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Facts And Locations About Waterfowls: Bird Watching

Updated on July 23, 2014

Types Of Waterfowls To Identify

Here is a list that will be discussed.

  • Eclipse Plumage
  • Mallards
  • Paddle Ducks
  • Pintail
  • Gadwall
  • Wigeon
  • Shoveler
  • Blue Wing Teal
  • Cinnamon Teal
  • Green Wing Teal
  • Wood Duck
  • Black Duck
  • Canvasback
  • Diving Duck
  • Redheads
  • Ringneck
  • Scaup
  • Goldeneye

Variety Of Waterfowls

Learning to identify some the waterfowls can be a good learning experience for all ages. Millions of people from all over the world enjoy watching birds. Bird watching can be a very enjoyable, relaxing experience for people of all ages. Just think you can amaze your friends with the waterfowl knowledge and maybe make a trivia game out of it. What is a waterfowl bird? This is a bird that lives near or on water, which are ducks, geese, swans, and cranes plus there are many. Depending on the type of waterfowl, diving ducks prefer deeper water such as lakes, rivers, inlets, and costal bays while paddle ducks, like places such as shallow marshes and rivers, since they surface feed.

Click thumbnail to view full-size

Eclipse Plumage

Nearly all ducks will shed their body feathers twice a year and the drakes will lose their bright plumage therefore causing them to look like the female hen. That is how the Eclipse plumage came about. This will vary in the different species and individual species when their color will return. Wing feathers will usually only shed once a year and wing colors are always the same. Watch for these signs to help identify:

  • Flock Maneuvers - Loose groups are the Pintails, Mallards, and Wigeons
  • Small Compact Bunches - Teal and Shovelers
  • Waving lines to temporary V's - Canvasbacks

Different Types Of Waterfowl Habitats

Mallard (Greenhead)
Nothern Pintail
Deep Lakes, Slow Rivers, Ponds, Bays(sometimes)
Summers - Marshes, Ponds
Found On Open Lakes, Marshes
Winter- Lower Mississippi, Along Gulf Coast
Winter- Costal Bays, Lakes, Grain Fields
Most Numerous In Central Flyways
8 to 10 Greenish White Eggs
6 to 12 Light Green Eggs
7 to 13 White Eggs

Mallard - Pintail - Gadwall Pictures

Mallard Ducks
Mallard Ducks
Pintail Ducks
Pintail Ducks
Gadwall Ducks
Gadwall Ducks

Mallard Ducks

Length - 24 inches Weight - 2 3/4 pounds

This breed of duck the Mallard duck (most common) is found in all parts flyways and is also called the Greenheads.

  • Flocks - Feed in the early morning, late afternoon in harvested fields.
  • Return to marshes or the creeks to nest/rest for the night

Paddle Ducks

A paddle duck prefers shallow waters such as fresh swallow marshes and rivers. Normally they will feed by dipping or tipping rather than diving even though they are good at diving. Their color patch on the wings are a good sign that it is a paddle duck. More than likely they will feed in the crops since they can walk or run without any problems and are quite good at it. The diet mostly consist of vegetables, grain feed mallards, or pintails and acorn fatten wood ducks.

Pintail Duck

  1. Slender long neck with a pointed tail
  2. Length - 26 inches Weight - 1 3/4 pounds
  3. Use all four flyways
  4. Fond of zig-zagging from high before landing, fast fliers
  5. Often feed in grain fields

Gadwall Duck

There are more Gadwall ducks in the central flyways and they are sometimes called the Grey Mallards or Grey Ducks. They usually migrants the earliest, so they hardly ever face cold weather.

  • Small compact flocks
  • Fly swiftly
  • Direct line, wings flap rapid.

Different Types Of Waterfowl Habitats

Blue Wing Teal
Lakes, Marshes, Ponds
Shallow Lakes, Ponds, Brackish Marshes
Summer - Small Lakes, Open Grass Lands
Nest - Grasses (near water)
Nest - Grasses (not alway near water)
Winter - Marshes, Costal Areas
9 to 11 Cream Eggs
6 to 14 Pale Green Eggs
6 to 15 White Eggs

Wigeon, Shoveler, Blue Winged Teal

Wigeon - 21 inches in length Weight - 1 3/4 pounds

  • Nervous birds, quick to respond if alarmed
  • Flight - irregular with lots of turns and twist
  • Movement - compared to that of pigeons

Shoveler - 19 1/2 inches in length Weight - 1 1/2 pounds

  • Early migrants (moving out when first frost hits)
  • Central and Pacific flyways are the most numbers
  • Fly steady and direct
  • Startled they twist and turn in air while flying

Blue Wing Teal - 16 inches in length Weight - 15 ounces

  • Small size, twist and turn when flying, giving appearance of speed
  • Common to fly low over marshes
  • Vocal more than most ducks
  • One of the first to migrant each fall and last in the spring

Cinnamon Teal, Green Winged Teal

Cinnamon Teal

  • More common than Blue Winged Teal
  • Pacific Flyway

Green Winged Teal - Length 15 inches - Weight 14 ounces

  • As long as open water is found they will stay far north
  • Smallest, most common
  • Tiny size gives impression of speed
  • Fly low and erratic with entire turning and twisting as one unit.

Wood Duck, Black Duck

Wood Duck - length 18 1/2 inches Weight - 1 1/2 pounds

  • Found in all flyways
  • Found more in Atlantic and Mississippi flyways with fewest in Central
  • Migrate early with most leaving by mid November
  • Perch in trees

Black Duck - Length 24 inches Weight 2 3/4 pounds

  • Eastern States
  • Primary Atlantic flyway and lesser extent the Mississippi
  • Wariest of all ducks.
  • Flight is swift in small numbers

Click thumbnail to view full-size

Pictures Of Ducks

Three are of Black Duck with one showing the wing structure. One way to easy identify the Black Duck is the white wing lining with a very dark body plumage. The hen quacks while the drake kwek-kwek.

Different Types Of Waterfowl Habitats

Cinnamon Teal
Green Winged Teal
Wood Duck
Lakes, Marshes
Summer In Ponds, Lakes
Swamps, Ponds, Rivers
Nest In Grasses
Winter In Rivers, Costal Marshes
Wooded Areas (Tree Cavities)
7 to 12 Pinkish Eggs
7 to 15 Pale Green Eggs
10 to 15 Eggs Dull Whitish

Canvasback, Diving Ducks, Redheads

Canvasback - Length - 22 inches Weight - 3 pounds

This type of duck is normally late to start migrating south which it will do in a line or irregular V's.

  • Feeding Areas - If the Canvasback flock is compact they fly indefinite formation
  • Wing Beat - Rapid, Noisy
  • Speed - Swiftest of all ducks

Diving Ducks

  • Larger and deeper lakes, rivers, costal bays, and inlets
  • Many have shorter tails
  • Huge paddle feet which can be used as rudders in flight, often can be seen
  • Paddle along the water before going into flight most of the time
  • Diets - Fish, mollusks, aquatic plants, shellfish
  • Shorter wings in proportion to body size and weight

Redhead Ducks Length - 20 inches Weight - 2 1/2 pounds

  • Coast to Coast, Largest numbers in flocks
  • Central Flyways
  • V formation
  • Seem to always be in a hurry
  • Days most of time in rafts in deep water
  • Morning and evening they feed in shallower water

Click thumbnail to view full-size


Pictures Of Ducks

  • Canvasback Duck
  • Diving Duck
  • Redhead Duck

The diving duck shows the formation.

Ringneck, Scaup, Goldeneye

Ringneck Duck - Length 17 inches Weight 2 1/2 pounds

  • Often found fresh marshes, wooded ponds
  • Light bands on the tip and base of bill are noticeable
  • Light brown ring on neck can't see in a field

Scaup - (Greater) Length 18 1/2 inches Weight 2 pounds

(Lesser) Length 17 inches Weight 1 7/8

  • Appear nearly identical except for the wing marks in a field
  • Like wide open water areas (Greater)
  • (Lesser) likes marshes, ponds
  • Migrate late (sometimes right before freeze)
  • Flocks movement rapid, erratic (often)
  • Flocks most of time compact

Goldeneye (Common) Length 19 inches Weight 2 1/4 pounds

(Barrow's) Length 19 inches Weight 2 3/4 pounds

Common Eclipse Drake

  • Active, very strong winged flyers
  • Move single or in a group of a small flock
  • Referred as whistlers since their wings make a distinctive whistling sound
  • Prefer rapids, fast water
  • Fly south late in the season

Barrow's Drake

  • This is a western duck
  • Not as weary as the Common Goldeneye Duck

Ringneck, Scaup, Goldeneye

Lesser Scaup
Common Goldeneye
Summer - Lakes, Marshes
Summer - Lakes, Marshes
Summer - Lakes, Marshes
Winter - Large lakes, Costal Areas
Winter - Lakes, Coastal Areas
Winter - Lakes, Costal Areas
6 to 14 Pale Green Eggs
8 to 14 Pale Green Eggs
5 to 15 Light Green Eggs

Maps, Ducks

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Water ActivityWaterfowl Zone MapDuck StampRingneck DuckRingneck Identify
Water Activity
Water Activity
Waterfowl Zone Map
Waterfowl Zone Map
Duck Stamp
Duck Stamp
Ringneck Duck
Ringneck Duck
Ringneck Identify
Ringneck Identify


Click thumbnail to view full-size
Typical Flock PatternCommon Goldeneye Identify ScaupScaup Identify
Typical Flock Pattern
Typical Flock Pattern
Common Goldeneye Identify
Common Goldeneye Identify
Scaup Identify
Scaup Identify


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    • Annie Wright profile imageAUTHOR

      Anna Haun 

      5 years ago from USA


      Correction on comment, didn't say it correctly.

      Thank you for following me. I don't mind at all that your following me.

      Sorry it didn't come out right, Red (squirrel) was on my lap helping, wanting a cookie.


    • Annie Wright profile imageAUTHOR

      Anna Haun 

      5 years ago from USA

      Hi Michael Kismet,

      Thank you for the nice comments. I don't at that your following me. I'm happy that you have allowed your niece to keep the duckling as I feel this will be a great learning experience. There are Vets that will provide medical care if ever it should need it. My two daughters always had a variety of animals growing up and one important learning experiencing was being a responsible care giver, now one daughter is a nurse. The other is an accountant. I always kept a chart on the kitchen wall (poster Paper), with a list of things they needed to do in order to provide proper care and they would check off each day and time they did the care. This way I knew the care of being done and not forgotten.


    • Michael Kismet profile image

      Michael Kismet 

      5 years ago from Northern California

      Thank you for such a swift and comprehensive response to my inquiry, my niece and I will take all the proper precautions to make sure the duckling will have everything that it needs to be happy and healthy, I also am following you now, I hope you do not mind!

      It's nice to see other animal lovers on Hubs. Keep your quality hubs coming!

    • Annie Wright profile imageAUTHOR

      Anna Haun 

      5 years ago from USA

      Hello Michael Kismet,

      Thank you for the nice comments. I believe that your niece may well benefit from a learning experience. Ask yourself these questions: Does your niece take complete care of the duckling? Complete care involves feeding, grooming, providing exercise regularly, and provide attention. How do your niece and the duckling interact together? Does the duckling follow her around? Is there an area for the duckling to be able to swim? Are you in a high traffic area? If in a high traffic area is there a fence to help provide safely for the duckling? Who will be responsible if the duckling requires medical attention? Are there other pets and how do they react to the duckling? Yes it is safe to have a duckling. I have about 15 to 20 squirrels that I feed daily and a few I can pet or hold, yet sometimes they will shoot in the door if its open. My dog Tyke gets along well with them including the 8 to 12 rabbits, mom raccoon and her 4 babies, plus a few other animals. I also feed anywhere from 70 to 150 or more birds daily. I hope your niece enjoys her time with the little duckling.

      Thank you


    • Michael Kismet profile image

      Michael Kismet 

      5 years ago from Northern California

      This is a very well written article. You put a lot of time into this, and it clearly shows. There's so much information to digest, you might want to trim the eye-load. I hope you don't me saying that But great article, I learned a lot!

      Do you think it's practical and/or safe to have a duck as a pet? My niece lives with me and she's raising a baby duckling. =)

    • goodnews11 profile image


      5 years ago from CHENNAI

      Great hub my dear friend! Voted up! Interesting!


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