Identification of 10 Marsh Duck Species: an Updated Photographic Guide

MALLARD

Mallards, because of their trusting nature, are found in urban environments all over the world.

Mallard (male)
Mallard (male)

Males are recognized by their uncrested glossy-green head and white neck ring.

Mallard (male)
Mallards

Females are mottled brown with a whitish tail, a bill patched with orange and orange feet.

Mallard (female)
Mallard (female)

Mallards hybridize with Black Ducks, Pintails and domestic ducks. These “bib” ducks are seen frequently around Toronto.

Hybrid “Bib” Duck
hybrid “bib” duck
Hybrid “Bib” Duck

AMERICAN BLACK DUCK

American Black Ducks
American Black Duck (male)

The American Black Duck is sooty brown with a paler head and metallic violet wing patch.

American Black Duck

Males have a greenish-yellow bill.

American Black Duck (male)
American Black Duck

Females have a dark-olive bill.

American Black Duck (female)

GADWALL

Gadwall
Gadwall (male)

The male Gadwall is a gray duck with a black rump and a white patch on the rear edge of the wing.

Gadwall (male)
Gadwall (male)

The female is a mottled brown with a white wing patch, yellow feet and yellow on the bill.

Gadwall (female)
Gadwall (female)

COMMON PINTAIL

Northern Pintail (male)

The male Pintail is a slender slim-necked, white-breasted duck with a needle-pointed tail.

Northern Pintail (male)

The female is mottled brown with a rather pointed tail, slender neck and gray bill.

Common Pintail (female) photo; birdspix.com

Here is a Mallard – Pintail hybrid.

Mallard X Pintail
Mallard X Pintail

AMERICAN WIGEON

American Wigeon (male)
American Wigeon
American Wigeon

The American Wigeon sits higher on the water than other ducks.

American Wigeon (male)

The male has a shining white crown and a gray head with deep green patch.

American wigeon (male)
American Wigeon (male)

The female is brown with a gray head and neck and a dark smudge around the eye.

American Wigeon (female)
American Wigeon (female)

WOOD DUCK

The male Wood Duck is certainly one of the most beautiful creatures on earth.

Wood Duck (male)
Wood Duck (male)

Males have a highly ornate face pattern, swept back crest and rainbow iridescence.

Wood Duck (male)
Wood Duck (male)

Females are dull-coloured with a dark crested head and a white eye patch.

Wood Duck (female)
Wood Ducks
Wood Duck and chick

NORTHERN SHOVELER

Northern Shovelers
Northern Shovelers

Northern Shovelers are small ducks with spoon-shaped bills.

Northern Shoveler (male)

The male has much black and white with a rufous side.

Northern Shoveler (male)

The female is brown with a big bill.

Northern Shoveler (female)
Northern Shovelers

GREEN-WINGED TEAL

Green-winged Teal (male)
Green-winged Teal (male)
Green-winged Teal (male) and Mallards

The male Green-winged Teal is a small compact gray duck with a brown head and a green head patch.

Green-winged Teal (photo: sandiegobirdspot) male

The female is a small speckled duck with a green wing patch.

Green-winged Teal (female)

There was considerable excitement among Toronto birders when a European Teal appeared in January 2021and associated with 3 North American Green-wings.

Green-winged Teals (l) and European Teal (r)

BLUE-WINGED TEAL

Blue-winged Teal (male)
Blue-winged Teal (male)
Blue-winged Teal (male)

The Blue-winged Teal is about half the size of a Mallard.

The male has a white facial crescent and large chalky blue patch on the forewing.

Blue-winged Teal (male)

The female is brown and mottled.

Blue-winged Teal (female) photo: pixels.com
Blue-winged Teal

PEKIN DUCK

Pekin Duck

The Pekin is an American breed of domestic duck, raised primarily for meat. It is a mallard derived from birds brought to the United States from China in the nineteenth century, and is now bred in many parts of the world. 

Pekin Duck

They occasionally escape and can be seen in local marshes.

Pekin Duck, Black Duck and Mallards
Pekin Duck

While working as a naturalist on cruise ships in the Antarctic region, I came across a species of duck which eats meat and made this post.

Yellow-billed Pintail

A Carniverous Duck: the Yellow-billed Pintail | Miles Hearn

MAILBOX

Hi Miles:
We talked about the heavy load of walnuts and pinecones this year so I thought this may interest you:

https://na01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.science.org%2Fcontent%2Farticle%2Fwhy-are-trees-dropping-so-many-nuts-climate-may-drive-erratic-masting&data=04%7C01%7C%7C91b0e235cb4844e2d2d408d9b07a914a%7C84df9e7fe9f640afb435aaaaaaaaaaaa%7C1%7C0%7C637734862733695911%7CUnknown%7CTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7C3000&sdata=nlpr6wvl4DmW%2BavdPFan2sE%2F7Mfq8zhr8gaJi4LxGdM%3D&reserved=0

NATURE POETRY

In May-time, when the lilac-plumes
Droop from the branch their purple blooms;
When chestnuts clap their leafy hands,
And every bud with joy expands;
When in the moist, sequester’d nooks
Of woods is heard the call of brooks,
The wood-duck builds its downy nest
Secure from prowling schoolboy’s quest. -McClellan

Miles Hearn

6 thoughts on “Identification of 10 Marsh Duck Species: an Updated Photographic Guide

  1. Lisa Volkov

    What a wonderful, fascinating guide! You could give an online course in bird identification! I’m sure there would be interest in this, given all the bird watching which has become so popular during the pandemic. Ducks that have developed a taste for seal meat. Who knew? And a thank you also to Eddie for the wonderful Owl and Hawk photos. Thanks, Miles!

    Reply
  2. rosemarie fischer

    one of the most informative posts,thanks Miles.so many beautiful ducks!!!! Yes,very informative,I too learned so much from your posts!!!! many thanks…..Rosemarie

    Reply
  3. Loretta Guran

    I learned so mush from this post and the others. Ducks are easier for me to spot and observe. The marvellous detailed pictures seem to bring out the personalities of the birds. Thank you. Loretta Guran

    Reply

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