Ducks, Geese & Swans

Hooded Merganser

Of the three mergansers—ducks with narrow, serrated bills—the hooded is the smallest and has the shortest bill. Both male and female hooded mergansers can be easily identified. The male is in gaudy plumage much of the year. Its head is an odd shape, either extremely round like a raised mushroom when its crest is raised… See details »



Look For A medium-sized diving duck named for its deep rust-red head. The male's black breast contrasts with a pale gray back. His gray bill is tipped in black, and the eyes are yellow. Female is uniformly gray-brown overall with a pale eye-ring and a pale area surrounding the base of the bill. Listen For… See details »

American Wigeon

American Wigeon

Look For The white crown stripe of the male American wigeon has earned this species the nickname "baldpate." This field mark contrasts with the dark eye patch and can be seen from great distances. Both male and female appear round-headed and have a pinkish chest and body. the light blue-gray bill has a black tip… See details »

American Black Duck

American Black Duck

Look For The black duck is a medium-sized dabbling duck with a dark charcoal body. Males and females are very similar, though the male has a yellowish bill while the female's bill is dull gray. In flight, black ducks show mostly white underwings and mostly dark upperwings. This contrast gives a flashing appearance to their… See details »

Northern Shoveler

Northern Shoveler, male and female

Look For From a distance the northern shoveler looks like a mallard with a big nose. It's this bird's large, shovel-like bill that earned it its name. The male has a solid dark green head, large black bill, white chest, and rusty sides. The female is plain light brown overall with a large orange and… See details »

Wood Duck

Wood Duck, male and female, by Olaf Oliviero Riemer

The male wood duck takes its colorful plumage to an extreme. In breeding plumage, it has a green crown and black face offset by white slashes reaching up from its white throat. The bill looks painted, a bright red-orange with black and white touches. Breast and undertail are chestnut, while the sides are adorned with… See details »

Ring-necked Duck

Closely related and superficially similar to the greater and lesser scaup, this diving bird has a few embellishments that easily set it apart from the scaup. Like the scaup, the male ringneck is blackish—in most light—on head, chest, and back. However, even at a distance, the adult male ring-necked duck has a vertical white comma… See details »

Northern Pintail

The elegant northern pintail is a sleek, slender bird in flight and on the water. In the breeding season, pintails inhabit nearly the entire portion of northern North America and much of the West. In winter, pintails can be found all along both coasts and almost anywhere wet (ponds, marshes, rivers) in between. Pintails forage… See details »


Mallard pair (female on the top left and male on the lower right). Photo by Richard Bartz / Wikimedia Commons.

The male mallard’s green head and yellow bill are easily recognizable, but female mallards—with their overall dark brown coloration—can be confused with black ducks, mottled ducks, and other female ducks. Look for her orange and black bill. Mallards are fairly large ducks with a 23-inch body length. Female Mallards give the typical duck call: quaaack!-quackquackquack… See details »

Lesser Scaup

Male scaup are easily recognized by their white sides and black heads. Females are brown with a large white patch at the base of the bill. Both have a distinctive blue bill which gives rise to a name commonly used by hunters—the blue bill. Telling the two scaup apart requires a close look at the… See details »

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