Known for their gentle nature, ducks have the largest population in the family of waterfowls. These pretty water birds are domesticated for their eggs and meat and are also kept as household pets. Today, we are going to talk about 25 duck species that you can find in the state of Florida.
1. Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)
Mallards are medium-sized waterfowls that are known for their far and wide breeding range. These ducks can be found across the subtropical and temperate regions of the Americas, North Africa, and Eurosiberia.
Although both sexes are about the same size, the Mallards display a strong sexual dimorphism in their plumage. The males’ head is colored in a rich shade of iridescent green, while the rest of their body is mostly covered in grey.
On the other hand, the females have a brownish body with a heavily speckled plumage.
2. White-Cheeked Pintail (Anas bahamensis)
Also known by the names of “Summer duck” and “Bahaman Pintail”, the White-cheeked Pintails are a species of dabbling ducks that often inhabit mangrove swamps, brackish lakes, and estuaries.
Found mostly in the Galapagos Islands, the Caribbean, and South America, these ducks visit the southern parts of Florida as vagrants.
They display minimal sexual dimorphism, with both the sexes appearing almost alike. They have a dark brown body, a grey bill with a red base, and the characteristic white cheeks that lend them their name.
3. American Wigeon (Mareca americana)
The American Wigeons are medium-sized dabbling ducks that are primarily found in North America. These birds have a round head, a short neck, a small, pale-blue bill tipped with black, a white belly, and grey feet and legs.
Both the non-breeding males and females appear similar, with only the breeding males standing out.
These males have a green-feathered mask around their eyes, and a creamy cap running from the crown to the bill, which is why they are often referred to as “Baldpate”, where “pate” means head. They also have white shoulder patches on their buff-colored wings, which can only be seen during flight.
On the other hand, the females and non-breeding males have a plumage colored in a mixture of grey and brown.
4. American Black Duck (Anas rubripes)
The American Black Ducks are among the larger and heavier members of the genus of dabbling ducks. Native to the eastern parts of North America, these ducks have been prized as game birds for a long time.
Their plumage is somewhat similar to the female Mallards, only darker in shade. Both sexes appear alike except for their bills.
While the males have a yellow bill, the females’ bill is dull green with dark markings on the upper mandible. You can also notice black flecks on the female’s bill occasionally.
5. Mottled Duck (Anas fulvigula)
More popularly known as “Mottled mallards”, the Mottled Ducks are closely related to the American Black Ducks.
These ducks have two different subspecies, and the one belonging to Florida can commonly be found in the central as well as southern parts of the state. Their head is lighter in shade compared to their body, which is dark brown in color.
They have dark eyes, orange legs, and a significant greenish-blue patch on their wings. The males have a bright yellow bill in color, while the females have a pale orange bill.
6. Northern Pintail (Anas acuta)
Found throughout North America, Europe, and the Palearctic in their breeding season, the Northern Pintails are large, migratory ducks.
Displaying significant sexual dimorphism, the male Northern Pintails are much larger in size than their female counterparts.
They have a blue bill, a chocolate brown head with white stripes running across their neck sides. Their breast is white, with grey upperparts and feathers covered in black central stripes. Their undertail is black, with a yellow vent.
On the other hand, the females have a light brown body with a long, grey bill, a greyish-brown head, and a short, pointed tail.
7. Gadwall (Mareca strepera)
Inhabiting the steppe lakes and prairies, the Gadwalls are among the most widespread members in the dabbling ducks’ family. These ducks are sexually dimorphic, with the males being larger and heavier than females.
While the non-breeding males and females have a light brown plumage similar to the female Mallards, the breeding males have a mostly grey body with black rear, light, chestnut wings with bright white wing patches. Their speculum is visible both in flight as well as during rest.
8. Redhead (Aythya americana)
Named after their characteristic red head, the Redheads are medium-sized diving ducks that breed in North America, the Caribbean, and northern parts of Canada. You can find these ducks in the southern parts of the US, Guatemala, Cuba, Mexico, and the Bahamas during the winters.
The Redheads are sexually dimorphic birds, wherein the males have a white belly, pale-blue bill, grey sides, black breast, and a lighter shade of black covering their rump and tail. Their head is brown, but changes to copper in the breeding season.
On the other hand, the females have a slate-colored bill, brown breast, white belly, and greyish brown plumage.
9. Greater Scaup (Aythya marila)
Often referred to as simply “Scaup”, the Greater Scaups are medium-sized ducks that are often called “Bluebill” in North America.
These ducks display a strong sexual dimorphism wherein the males are larger in size and have a face that’s rounder than the females. They have a dark head with a glossy green iridescence, black breast, a bright blue bill, white belly, and wings with a bold white stripe.
On the other hand, the females have a mostly brown body coupled with a paler bill.
10. Canvasback (Aythya valisineria)
The Canvasbacks are the largest diving ducks that are found in North America. These ducks mainly breed in North America’s prairie potholes, while during winters, they travel to the mid-Atlantic US and along the coasts of California.
They have a unique, wedge-shaped head, and display sexual dimorphism. The males have a chestnut red head, black breast, grey back, black rump, and a blackish-brown tail.
On the other hand, the females have a light brown head and neck, with a darker chest and undersides. Both sexes have a black bill and bluish-grey legs and feet.
11. Ring-Necked Duck (Aythya collaris)
Commonly inhabiting the freshwater lakes and ponds, the Ring-necked Ducks are medium-sized diving ducks that breed in Canada and the northern parts of the US.
These ducks display sexual dimorphism, wherein the males are slightly larger in size than their female counterparts.
The adult males are similar in appearance to their relative, the Eurasian Tufted Ducks, and have a shiny, black head and back, white breasts, and yellow eyes.
On the other hand, the females have a greyish-brown head and body with a dark bill, dark brown back, and brown eyes.
Teals and Shovelers
12. Cinnamon Teal (Spatula cyanoptera)
Found both in North and South America, the Cinnamon Teals are small-sized ducks that mostly inhabit marshes and ponds.
These ducks are sexually dimorphic, wherein the males have the characteristic cinnamon-red head and body, with a dark bill and red eyes. Whereas the females have a mottled brown body with a paler head, grey bill, and brown eyes.
13. Northern Shoveler (Spatula clypeata)
The Northern Shovelers are migratory ducks with a far-reaching range. These ducks have a large, spatulate bill that sets them apart from the other duck species in the northern hemisphere.
The breeding males have a dark head with green iridescence, white breast, and chestnut-colored belly and flanks.
The females appear similar to the female Mallards, with a dull, mottled brown body and grey forewings.
14. Blue-Winged Teal (Spatula Discors)
The Blue-winged Teals are small, migratory ducks that breed throughout most of North America and travel to Central America and the Caribbean Islands during winters.
These ducks display sexual dimorphism. The males have a light brown body, a greyish-blue head, a black tail, a white crescent on their face, and a white patch on their rump.
On the other hand, the females have a mottled brown body with the base of their bill having a whitish patch.
15. Harlequin Duck (Histrionicus histrionicus)
Named after a colorfully dressed character of the 18th-century theatre, the Harlequin Ducks are small sea ducks that are colloquially called “Lords and ladies” in North America.
With the females possessing a brownish-grey plumage, the males are the more attractive sex, particularly in the breeding season.
They have a slate-blue head and neck with a bold white crescent formed in front of their eyes. From their forehead runs a dark crown stripe, with chestnut patches on each side.
Below their face, they have a broad black collar bordered with a thin white stripe, which separates the head from the rest of their body. Their breast is light grey, bordered with white rings on both sides.
The rest of their body is a lighter shade of their head, with bold chestnut patches on the sides. They have metallic blue wing patches, and a long, pointed tail.
16. Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola)
Belonging to the genus of the Goldeneyes, the Buffleheads are small sea ducks that have been named after the unique appearance of their head, which is often compared to a buffalo.
These ducks display sexual dimorphism, wherein the males have a black and white head with brilliant green and purple iridescence, while the females have a black head with a small white patch on each side.
The undersides of the males are stark white, while in females they turn greyer. Both sexes have the characteristic golden eyes.
17. King Eider (Somateria spectabilis)
Breeding in Asia, North America, and northeastern Europe, the King Eiders are large sea ducks that display a strong sexual dimorphism.
The males are larger, heavier, and more brightly colored in their breeding plumage than their female counterparts. They have a multi-colored head, white breast with a remarkable buff tinge, and a mostly black body.
The females, on the other hand, have a warm-brown body with a pale head and neck. They have buffy eye rings and a similar patch at the base of their bill. These ducks are colloquially referred to as “Queen eiders.”
18. Long-Tailed Duck (Clangula hyemalis)
Often referred to as “Oldsquaw” in North America, the Long-tailed Ducks are medium-sized sea ducks that are the only members of the genus “clangula”.
Although both sexes have white underparts, they display sexual dimorphism in the rest of their body. The males have a dark head, neck, and back with a white patch on their cheek.
During winters, their head and neck turn white. The females have a similar head, only they grow a dark crown during winters.
19. Surf Scoter (Melanitta perspicillata)
The Surf Scoters are large sea ducks that are endemic to North America. These ducks are sexually dimorphic, both in their size, mass, and plumage.
The males are larger and heavier than female, and have a velvety-black body with white patches on their forehead and nape. The females have a brown body with darker uppersides and paler undersides.
The males’ bill is orangish in shade with white patterns on it, while the females have a black bill with greenish-blue coloration.
20. Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula)
Found in rivers and lakes with boreal forests nearby, the Common Goldeneyes are medium-sized sea ducks closely related to the Barrow’s Goldeneyes.
These migratory birds are sexually dimorphic, with the males being larger and heavier than their female counterparts.
The males’ head is dark with a greenish sheen, with prominent white spots on their cheek, white underparts, and a dark back.
In comparison, the females have a dark brown head and a dull, greyish body. Both sexes have the characteristic golden eyes and orangish-yellow feet and legs.
21. Common Merganser (Mergus merganser)
Often known as “Goosander” in Eurasia, the Common Mergansers are large-sized sea ducks that inhabit the lakes of the forested areas in Europe, North America, and the Palearctic.
These ducks display a strong sexual dimorphism, wherein the males are larger than females. The breeding males appear different from the females and non-breeding males, with a mostly grey body, a dull, red head, white chin, and wings. The head of the breeding males is black with a green iridescence.
Their body is mostly white with a tinge of salmon-pink, while their tail and rump are grey, and wings are black on the outside and white on the inside.
Like the other mergansers, these ducks have feathered crests on their head as well. However, these usually lie on the back of their head instead of standing erect.
22. Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis)
Endemic to North America, the Ruddy Ducks are small, stiff-tailed ducks that breed in marshy ponds and lakes. They have a peaked head, thick neck, a scoop-like bill, and a remarkably stiff tail that is cocked upwards.
The males have a black cap with contrasting white cheeks. They have a dull-grey body with paler undersides that turn into a rich chestnut shade in the breeding season.
On the other hand, the females are somewhat like the winter males, only browner in color.
23. Wood Duck (Aix sponsa)
Also known as “Carolina ducks”, the Wood Ducks are one of North America’s most colorful waterfowls.
These ducks are sexually dimorphic, with the males having a striking multi-colored plumage, while the females have a dull, heavily-speckled brown body, and prominent white eye-ring. Both sexes have a crested head.
24. Masked Duck (Nomonyx Dominicus)
Found throughout the Americas’ tropical regions, the Masked Ducks are small members of the genus of Oxyura (stiff-tailed ducks).
In Florida, these ducks are seen as vagrants and not inhabitants.
They display sexual dimorphism, wherein the breeding males have a black face, rust-colored body, and mottled wings.
Whereas the winter males, females, and juveniles have a barred, brownish-grey body with dark, horizontal stripes running along their face.
25. Muscovy Duck (Cairina moschata)
Endemic to Mexico, Central, and South America, the Muscovy Ducks are large ducks characterized by long claws and a flat, wide tail.
These ducks are sexually dimorphic, wherein the males are much larger and heavier than their female counterparts.
The wild Muscovy Ducks, found in Florida, have a blackish body with remarkable white wing patches. Their bill is black with pale pink speckles and a red knob at the base, which the females lack.
Conclusion: Species of Ducks in Florida
Out of all the duck species found in Florida, most species belong either to the Dabbling or Sea Ducks’ family. All of them have a unique size, shape, and plumage. The next time you come across a duck, you can recognize it easily.