Identifying Ducks

Skill at identifying in flight is important to limit harvest of less numerous duck species. Species with special restrictions are as follows:

Black Duck and Female Mallard

Both birds have white underwings, but the black duck's darker body contrasts more sharply with the underwing than does the brown body of the female mallard. Mallards have white wing bars on both edges of the blue speculum. The black duck usually has none or only a thin white bar on the back edge of the speculum.

Black Duck

Hen Mallard

black duck mallard hen


Wood Duck

This medium-sized duck frequents wooded ponds, streams and marshes statewide, especially early in the season. Drakes are very colorful, and hens and drakes have colorful wings with blue, maroon and silver hues. Calls are whistles and squeals.



wood duck drake wood duck hen



Pintails are puddle ducks, that frequent marshes. They are about the size of a mallard but slimmer in appearance. Few are well colored before December; most appear gray. The female wing speculum is cinnamon-colored, while the male speculum is green with a white trailing edge.



pintail drake pintail hen



This large diving duck has the shape of a mallard but is more uniformly brown or gray, with an unmarked gray wing speculum. Well-colored males have a chestnut red head. This bird frequents the open waters of large and small lakes, like the canvasback.



redhead drake redhead hen

Redhead Head



This large, mallard-sized diving duck has a characteristic wedge-shaped head and is usually found on the open waters of large and small lakes. Well-colored males have a red head.



canvasback drake canvasback hen

Canvasback Head



These birds are medium-to-small diving ducks. Greater and lesser scaup (bluebill) appear nearly identical in the field; however the white band near the trailing edges of the wings runs almost to the tip in the greater scaup, but only about halfway in the lesser.

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