This was the most important “puddle duck” in Ontario until eclipsed by the Mallard in the 1960’s. The population of Black Ducks appears to be holding its own fairly well but it has had to yield first place to the prettier and more trusting Mallard in recent years. In captivity the two species hybridize frequently and hybrids are sometimes found in the wild populations as well.
This is a big black duck with pale cheeks. The female Black Scoter has somewhat similar colouration but is a smaller, chunkier bird, often seen with other scoters farther from shore than most Black Ducks. In flight the brilliant white underwing is a good field mark, contrasting with the otherwise black plumage. Females mallards are brown rather than black and have the blue speculum bordered with white: the blue in the Black duck has no white border. White-winged and Surf Scoters are the other black ducks but usually show white in the wing or about the face and lack the scoop-shaped “puddle duck” bill shape.