18 Types of Ducks in Michigan (With Pictures)


Although most people associate ducks only for their meat or eggs, these waterfowls have a surprisingly high intellect level and are very social. There are over 1,000 duck species found in America, including the natives, non-natives, introduced species, and vagrants. In this article, we are going to talk about the duck species found in Michigan.

Following are the 18 duck species found in Michigan:

  1. Common Merganser
  2. Common Goldeneye
  3. Barrow’s Goldeneye
  4. Black Scoter
  5. White-Winged Scoter
  6. Bufflehead
  7. Long-Tailed Duck
  8. King Eider
  9. Red-Breasted Merganser Duck
  10. Lesser Scaup
  11. Ring-Necked Duck
  12. Canvasback
  13. American Black Duck
  14. Mallard Duck
  15. American Wigeon
  16. Gadwall
  17. Green-Winged Teal
  18. Wood Duck

 

Let’s read about these duck species in detail.

 

Sea Ducks

Common Merganser (Mergus merganser)

Common Merganser
Male Common Merganser
Female Common Merganser
Female Common Merganser

Weight – 1.95-4.63 lbs
Wingspan – 32-38 inches
Lifespan – about 3-7 years
IUCN ranking – least concern
Length – 23-28 inches

Also referred to as “Sawbills” due to their bills’ serrated edges, the Common Mergansers are among the larger members of the sea duck family. These ducks can be found in the lakes and rivers located in the forested areas of North America, Asia, and Europe.

The Common Mergansers are sexually dimorphic, wherein the males are the larger sex. In appearance, the females and the non-breeding males are somewhat similar, while the breeding males stand out. They have a black head with a green gloss, white body with a salmon-pink hue, grey tail, and rump. The inner half of their wings are white, while the outer half is black.

On the other hand, the females and non-breeding males have a reddish-brown head with a white chin, grey body, and white feathers. Both sexes have legs and bills ranging from red to reddish-brown.

Chewy

 

Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula)

Male Common Goldeneye
Male Common Goldeneye
Female Common Goldeneye
Female Common Goldeneye

Weight – 1.78-2.21 lbs
Wingspan – 30-32 inches
Lifespan – about 10-12 years
IUCN ranking – least concern
Length – 18-20 inches

Belonging to the genus of the Goldeneyes, the Common Goldeneyes are a species of territorial sea ducks that inhabit the snow forests in northern parts of the United States, Canada, northern Russia, Scandinavia, and the Baltic States.

The adult Common Goldeneyes display a strong sexual dimorphism where the males are slightly larger and heavier than the females and have a different appearance as well. The males have a black head and back, a circular white patch on their cheeks, and a white neck and belly.

On the other hand, the females have a dark brown head, with the rest of their bodies being greyish brown. Both sexes have orangish-yellow legs and feet.

 

Barrow’s Goldeneye (Bucephala islandica)

Barrow’s Goldeneye Pair
Barrow’s Goldeneye Pair

Weight – 2.13 lbs in males; 1.31 lbs in female
Wingspan – 27-28 inches
Lifespan – about 16-18 years
IUCN ranking – least concern
Length – 19 inches in males; 17 inches in females

Named after the English geographer, Sir John Barrow, the Barrow’s Goldeneyes are a species of sea ducks that are known for their bulbous heads.

In appearance, these ducks are so similar to the Common Goldeneyes that people often get confused between them. However, here is how you can differentiate between two; them males Barrow Goldeneyes have a white crescent near their beak, unlike the circular patch of the Common Goldeneyes.

They also possess a large bill than the former. On the other hand, the female Barrow Goldeneyes have a more rounded head than the Common Goldeneyes.

 

Black Scoter (Melanitta Americana)

Black Scoter Pair
Black Scoter Pair

Weight – 2.40 lbs in males; 2.16 lbs in females
Wingspan – about 28 inches
Lifespan – about 10-15 years
IUCN ranking – near threatened
Length – 19 inches in males; 18 inches in females

Also known as the “American Scoter”, the Black Scoters are a large sea duck species that inhabit the northern parts of the United States and migrate to the far south in the winters.

Black Scoters are sexually dimorphic, with the males being larger and heavier. While the males have an entirely black body with a huge, yellow bill, the females are brown in color and possess paler cheeks.

 

White-Winged Scoter (Melanitta deglandi)

White-Winged Scoter Pair

Weight – 3.04 lbs in males; 2.60 lbs in females
Wingspan – about 31.5 inches
Lifespan – about 10-12 years
IUCN ranking – least concern
Length – 22 inches in males; 20.6 inches in females

The specific name of the White-Winged Scoters (deglandi) honors Come Damien Degland, the French ornithologist. These ducks are the largest among all the three scoter species that are found in the United States.

Due to sexual dimorphism, the adult males are larger as well as heavier than their female counterparts. However, they appear somewhat alike, except the males have a brighter plumage and have a white mark near their eyes. As their name suggests, these ducks possess white wings that are hardly visible when they are not in flight.

 

Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola)

Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola)

Weight – 0.59-1.23 lbs
Wingspan – about 21 inches
Lifespan – about 1-2 years
IUCN ranking – least concern
Length – 13-16 inches

Named after their head’s unique shape, the Buffleheads are a small species of sea ducks found in North America.
The adult Buffleheads are sexually dimorphic, with the males being slightly larger in size than their females. While both males and females possess a blackhead, the heads of males are darker and have a greenish iridescence.

Moreover, the males possess a bold white patch on their heads, while the females only have a small white stripe. Both sexes have black eyes and back, with the undersides of the males being stark white while the females have a greyish underside.

 

Long-Tailed Duck (Clangula hyemalis)

Long-Tailed Duck Pair
Long-Tailed Duck Pair

Wingspan – about 28 inches
Lifespan – about 13-15 years
Weight – 1.64 lbs
IUCN ranking – vulnerable
Length – 17-24 inches

Named after the males’ characteristic long tail, the Long-tailed Ducks are medium-sized sea ducks that belong to the genus of Clangula. The North Americans often call these ducks “Oldsquaw”.

Long-tailed Ducks are sexually dimorphic in nature. During winters, the males have a white head and body with a dark breast and a dark patch on their cheek, while the females have a white head with a dark crown atop it.

However, in the summer, the head and back on the males darken, and their cheek patches become white, and the females acquire a dark head as well. The undersides of both sexes are white in all seasons.

 

King Eider (Somateria spectabilis)

Weight – 3.30-3.52 lbs
Wingspan – 34-40 inches
Lifespan – about 16-19 years
IUCN ranking – least concern
Length – 20-28 inches

Known for the male’s unique head and elegant coloration, the King Eiders are a large species of sea ducks with a wide breeding range.

These ducks are sexually dimorphic. The males are larger in size than their female counterparts and possess a beautiful plumage in the breeding season. You can find shades of teal, sky blue, orange, and black on their head, with the base of their pale beak being pink in color.

The rest of their body is mostly black, except for their remarkably buff chest. The females that are much paler in comparison have a light brown head and neck while the rest of their body is mottled and darker in color.

 

Diving Ducks

Red-Breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator)

Red-Breasted Merganser
Red-Breasted Merganser Pair

Weight – 1.76-2.95 lbs
Wingspan – 28-34 inches
Lifespan – about 7-9 years
IUCN ranking – least concern
Length – 20-24 inches

Belonging to the genus of the sawbills, the Red-breasted Mergansers are a species of medium-sized diving ducks known for their remarkable crests.

These ducks are sexually dimorphic, with the males having a black head and back, rusty breast, white neck, and underparts. They also have a greenish gloss on their dark head.

On the other hand, the females have a rusty brown head and a dull, greyish body. Both sexes have the characteristic spiky crest and a bill with serrated edges; however, the males have a darker bill.

 

Lesser Scaup (Aythya affinis)

Lesser Scaup (Aythya affinis)

Weight – 1.82 lbs in males; 1.62 lbs in females
Wingspan – 19-20 inches
Lifespan – about 2-3 years
IUCN ranking – least concern
Length – 16-19 inches in males; 15-18 inches in females

As you can guess by their name, the Lesser Scaups are small, migratory diving ducks that are endemic to North America. These ducks are called “Scaup” because they prefer feeding on mussels, clams, and oysters, known as “Scaup” in the Scottish language. In the United States, they are also known as “Broadbill” or “Little Bluebill”.

Lesser Scaups are sexually dimorphic ducks, wherein the males are larger and heavier than their female counterparts. The males have an iridescent dark head, black breast, greyish back, and white underparts.

The females have a prominent white band on their bill, with the rest of their body being a dull shade of brown, except a whitish belly. Both sexes possess grey feet and a bluish-grey bill.

 

Ring-Necked Duck (Aythya collaris)

Ring-Necked Duck Pair

Weight – 1.09-2 lbs
Wingspan – about 24 inches
Lifespan – about 7-10 years
IUCN ranking – least concern
Length – 15-18 inches

The Ring-necked Ducks are a species of medium-sized diving ducks that are endemic to North America. They are named after the two white rings that appear on the bill of the males.

Ring-necked Ducks are sexually dimorphic, with the females being smaller in size than their male counterparts. The males have a black head and back, with white lines on their feathers and white underparts.

On the other hand, the females have a brown body with a greyish-brown head and white rings surrounding their eyes. Both sexes also have different colored eyes, with the males having yellow eyes while the eyes of the females are brown like the rest of their bodies.

 

Canvasback (Aythya valisineria)

Canvasback (Aythya valisineria)

Weight – 1.90-3.52 lbs
Wingspan – 31-35 inches
Lifespan – about 14-16 years
IUCN ranking – least concern
Length – 19-22 inches

Out of all the diving ducks, you can find in North America, the Canvasbacks are by far the largest in size. These migratory birds are known for their peculiar, wedge-shaped head, which is rarely seen in another diving duck.

Canvasbacks are sexually dimorphic, although both sexes have the same bill and feet. The head of the males is colored in a deep shade of chestnut, bordered with black.

They also have a greyish back, a black chest as well as rump, while their tail is brownish-black in color. In contrast, the females possess a mostly brown body with paler undersides.

 

Dabbling Ducks

American Black Duck (Anas rubripes)

American Black Duck (Anas rubripes)

Weight – 1.58-3.63 lbs
Wingspan – 31-37 inches
Lifespan – about 25-27 years
IUCN ranking – least concern
Length – 21-23 inches

As you can gather from their name, the American Black Ducks are endemic to Eastern North America. These ducks are the heaviest species of the dabbling duck family and are somewhat similar to the female Mallards in appearance.

American Black Ducks display very little sexual dimorphism, with only their bill being different from each other. The males possess a yellow bill, whereas the females have a dull green bill with black flecks.

Both genders have a brown head and body; only their body is one tone darker. They have streaks on their cheek and throat, with violet speculum feathers and orange feet.

 

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)

Weight – 1.64-3.47 lbs
Wingspan – 32-39 inches
Lifespan – about 18-20 years
IUCN ranking – least concern
Length – 20-26 inches

The Mallards are medium-sized dabbling ducks that have a wide distribution in the northern and southern hemispheres. Although there is nothing extraordinary about their size, these ducks are heavier than all the other dabbling ducks found in North America.

Mallards are sexually dimorphic in their plumage. The males have an iridescent green head, a white-collar, brown breast tinged with purple, grey back, paler underparts, and greyish brown wings.

They have a yellowish-orange bill, black rump, and dark tail feathers. The female Mallards appear drab in comparison, with a mottled brown body, a black eye stripe, and a darker crown. Both sexes have iridescent blue speculum feathers bordered with white.

 

American Wigeon (Mareca Americana)

American Wigeon (Mareca Americana)

Weight – 1.16-2.87 lbs
Wingspan – 30-37 inches
Lifespan – about 1-2 years
IUCN ranking – least concern
Length – 17-23 inches

The American Wigeons are also known by the name of “Baldpate” due to the white patch on the head of the males. These medium-sized dabbling ducks are found in most parts of North America.

American Wigeons are sexually dimorphic, with the breeding males appearing different from the females and the non-breeding males, both of which appear similar.

The breeding males have a dark head with an iridescent green eye mask, a creamy-white bald cap on the top. When they are in flight, you can easily locate prominent white shoulder patches on their buff-colored wings. At the same time, the females and eclipse males have a dull brown head and greyish brown plumage.

 

Gadwall (Mareca strepera)

Gadwall (Mareca strepera)

Weight – 1.85-2.17 lbs
Wingspan – 31-35 inches
Lifespan – about 22-26 years
IUCN ranking – least concern
Length – 18-22 inches

Out of all the dabbling ducks that inhabit North America, the Gadwalls are by far the most widespread. These migratory ducks breed in the central parts of North America, Northern Europe, and the Palearctic. During winters, they travel all the way to Central America.

Gadwalls display a significant sexual dimorphism, with the males being slightly larger and heavier than the females. The breeding males appear different from the non-breeding males and females. They have a grey body, pale chestnut feathers, a black rump, and brilliant white speculum feathers that are noticeable both in flight and in rest.

While the eclipse males have a similar wing pattern, their upper parts are the shade of a much duller grey. On the other hand, the females have a light brown mottled body, a dark orange bill, white belly, and speculum.

 

Green-Winged Teal (Anas carolinensis)

Green-Winged Teal (Anas carolinensis)

Weight – 0.31-1.11 lbs
Wingspan – 20-23 inches
Lifespan – unknown
IUCN ranking – unknown
Length – 12-15 inches

Of all the dabbling ducks you can find in North America, the Green-winged Teals are by far the smallest in size. These migratory ducks are most widespread in the northern parts of Northern America in the breeding season and travel too far south during the winters.

Green-Winged Teals are sexually dimorphic. The breeding males are more colorful and have a chestnut head with an iridescent eye patch, grey back and flanks, and paler underparts.

They also have a white green-etched speculum, which is visible even when they are at rest. The females, however, have a light brown body and plumage similar to the female Mallards. The eclipse males look like the females in appearance.

 

Other Ducks

Wood Duck (Aix sponsa)

Wood Duck (Aix sponsa)

Weight – 1-1.82 lbs
Wingspan – 27-29 inches
Lifespan – about 3-4 years
IUCN ranking – least concern
Length – 19-21 inches

Endemic to North America, the Wood Ducks are often referred to as “Carolina Ducks” and tend to build their nest in the tree cavities.

Wood Ducks display a strong sexual dimorphism, with the males being known for their brilliant coloration. They have red eyes, a white neck patch, and a uniquely colored plumage with a bluish and greenish iridescence.

On the other hand, the females have a dull brownish-grey body, with streaked upperparts and plain underparts. However, both sexes have crests on their heads.

 

Bottom Line

All the duck species can broadly be divided into three different categories: Diving, Dabbling, and Sea Ducks. In Michigan, there are 4 diving ducks, 5 dabbling ducks, and 8 sea ducks. All these ducks have different appearances, habitats, and characteristics. The next time you need to differentiate between them, you will be able to do so easily.

 

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