Beautiful Ducks With Brown Heads [Images + IDs]

Hey, duck enthusiasts! Ever observed those ducks flaunting stylish brown heads? Well, get ready because these ducks are not just your average quackers – they’re like the rockstars of the bird world!

Now, these brown-headed ducks come in all sorts of styles and sizes. You can find them hanging out in different places, like ponds, rivers, or lakes, depending on the type of duck. Spotting these beauties gliding on the water or searching for snacks by the shore is always a treat.

So, why not join us for an exclusive look into the fascinating world of ducks with brown heads? This article is your VIP pass to discover the charm and uniqueness of these fabulous feathered friends. Get ready to be amazed!

List of Birds with Brown Heads

Bufflehead (Female)

  • Scientific Name: Bucephala albeola
  • Lifespan: 12 years
  • Size: 12–15 inches in length, 1–1.2 pounds in weight
  • Origin: Breeds in Canada, migrates to various regions in the US, northern Mexico, and Canada’s Pacific coast.

Buffleheads are small birds known for their bulbous heads, which inspired their name, derived from the ancient Greek word “bullheaded.” Male Buffleheads are quite distinctive due to the large white patch behind their eyes. This patch highlights their glossy green and purple crown, forehead, throat, and neck. The lower half of their bodies is white, while the upper half is black.

Female Buffleheads, on the other hand, look quite different from males, except for their characteristic bulbous heads. They have dark brown or black heads with a white patch below the eye. Their lower halves are gray, while their upper halves are black. Juveniles resemble females with their brown heads and a white patch on the head.

Buffleheads primarily breed in Canada before migrating to various regions in the US, northern Mexico, and Canada’s Pacific coast. During migration, they can be spotted in the Midwest and the Appalachians. They tend to inhabit small lakes and ponds surrounded by poplar and aspen forests during the breeding season and move to protected coastal waters or shallow bays and inlets in winter.

Green-winged Teal

  • Scientific Name: Anas crecca
  • Lifespan: 7–10 years
  • Size: 12–16 inches in length, 0.5–1 pound in weight
  • Origin: Breeds in Alaska, Canada, and northern US states, migrates to southern US states and the Pacific Coast.

Green-winged Teals are small dabbling ducks characterized by a green stripe along the sides of their heads in males. The rest of their heads are brown, and their bodies appear grayish.

Females, on the other hand, are brown with a yellow streak along the tail, and both males and females have a green wing patch. Most Green-winged Teals migrate from their breeding grounds in Alaska, Canada, and northern US states to the southern US states and the Pacific Coast. Some, however, remain around the Rocky Mountains year-round.

Green-winged Teals are often found in flooded areas and shallow ponds, where they form large flocks that can number up to 50 thousand. They primarily feed on invertebrates and seeds.

Common Goldeneye (Female)

  • Scientific Name: Bucephala clangula
  • Lifespan: 12 years
  • Size: 15–18 inches in length, 1.5–3 pounds in weight
  • Origin: Breeds in Canada and Alaska, migrates to the lower 48 states for winter.

Male Common Goldeneyes are striking ducks with green, iridescent heads that can appear almost black. They feature a white spot under their yellow eyes and have white bodies and sides with black backs.

Female Common Goldeneyes, in contrast, are grayish-brown with brown heads. Both males and females have black bills, but females have a yellow tip. These ducks breed in Canada and Alaska during the summer before migrating to the lower 48 states for winter.

Common Goldeneyes are typically found in boreal forest lakes during the breeding season and in coastal areas during winter. They are diving ducks that primarily feed on a diet consisting of crabs, shrimp, crayfish, fish, fish eggs, and insects.

Red-breasted Merganser (Female)

  • Scientific Name: Mergus serrator
  • Lifespan: 5–9 years
  • Size: 20–24 inches in length, 1.5–3 pounds in weight
  • Origin: Breeds in Canada, migrates to the coasts of the US and Canada.

Breeding male Red-breasted Mergansers are quite noticeable with their striking features. They possess black, glossy green crests that are ragged and spiky, dark red eyes, and long, serrated orange bills. A white neck collar, mottled reddish-brown breast, black and white back, and gray flanks further distinguish them.

Females and non-breeding males of this species have reddish-brown spiky crests, red eyes, long red bills, white throats, and gray bodies. Red-breasted Mergansers typically breed in Canada, except for the southwest, before migrating to the coasts of the US and Canada. During migration, they can be spotted in southwestern Canada and all US states.

You can usually find Red-breasted Mergansers in various habitats, including tundra ponds, freshwater lakes and rivers, and brackish and saltwater wetlands, particularly near the coast during the breeding season. In winter, they may also be seen in the ocean.

Northern Pintail

  • Scientific Name: Anas acuta
  • Lifespan: 2–5 years
  • Size: 21–29 inches in length, 1.5–2 pounds in weight
  • Origin: Breeds in Canada, Alaska, and the Midwest, migrates to southern and coastal

Northern Pintails are distinctive ducks known for their long, pointy tails. Males have striking brown heads with a contrasting white stripe running down their neck. Their bodies are primarily white, featuring gray, white, and black patterns on their backs. When in flight, their wings reveal a noticeable green patch.

Females, in contrast, exhibit a brown coloration with intricate scaled patterns on their bodies and a brown patch on their wings. Northern Pintails typically breed in Canada, Alaska, and the Midwest before migrating to southern and coastal US states.

You can often find Northern Pintails residing alongside other duck species in open wetlands, marshes, prairies, and even agricultural fields. They are known to forage on the edges of lakes and ponds and occasionally dabble in open water with other ducks. During the winter months, they migrate to coastal lagoons, sheltered estuaries, and brackish marshes.


  • Scientific Name: Aythya americana
  • Lifespan: 15 years
  • Size: 19–23 inches in length, 1.8–3 pounds in weight
  • Origin: Breeds in western Canada, Alaska, and western US states, migrates to southern US states, the east coast of the US, Mexico, and the Caribbean.

Redheads, medium-sized diving birds, indeed live up to their name with their striking redheads. This red head is in contrast with a black throat and chest, while the rest of the body appears gray. They possess a distinctive blue-gray bill with a black tip. Female Redheads share the same bill characteristics but are brown throughout their bodies.

Redheads typically breed in western Canada, Alaska, and western US states before migrating south for the winter to areas such as southern US states, the east coast of the US, Mexico, and the Caribbean.

You can spot Redheads in various habitats, including marshes, open lakes, reedy ponds, and bays, as long as the water is deep enough for diving and rooting out plant vegetation. During the winter, they migrate to coastal shorelines with calm waters, as well as reservoirs and estuaries.


  • Scientific Name: Aythya valisineria
  • Lifespan: 15–20 years
  • Size: 19–22 inches in length, 2–3 pounds in weight
  • Origin: Breeds in western Canada and some regions in north-central states, migrates to southern US states, Mexico, and both the east and west coasts of America.

Canvasbacks, from the Anatidae family, are easily distinguishable, particularly the males, due to their red eyes and sloping reddish-brown heads and throats. Their chest is black, while their bellies and backs are predominantly white or grayish. The lower portion of their bodies is also black. Females, on the other hand, have brownish heads, throats, and chests, but their backs and bellies are brown and gray.

Canvasbacks typically breed in western Canada and some regions in north-central states before embarking on their winter migration to southern US states, Mexico, and both the east and west coasts of America.

You can find Canvasbacks in various habitats, including prairie marshes, deep-water marshes, lakes, bays, and ponds. They often congregate in large flocks with other birds, easily distinguishable by their white bodies and sloping heads. During the winter, they prefer freshwater lakes and coastal waters.

Eurasian Wigeon

  • Scientific Name: Mareca penelope
  • Lifespan: 20 years
  • Size: 17–22 inches in length, 1–2 pounds in weight
  • Origin: Breeds in Eurasia, occasionally spotted in certain areas of the US during winter.

Eurasian Wigeons are notable among dabbling ducks for the bright, creamy patch on their heads, which contrasts with their cinnamon-red heads and blue-gray bills. Their backs and sides are gray, and they display pinkish breasts. Their wings exhibit white shoulder patches with a green lower layer. Female Eurasian Wigeons are primarily brown with scaly patterns across their bodies and white bellies.

Although relatively rare, Eurasian Wigeons can occasionally be spotted during the winter in certain areas of the US.

These ducks are typically found in wet grasslands, tidal flats, marshes, ponds, and lakes. They often join groups of other dabbling ducks when foraging for food, primarily consuming aquatic vegetation that is either submerged or just below the water’s surface.


  • Scientific Name: Spatula querquedula
  • Lifespan: 5–7 years
  • Size: 13–16 inches in length, 0.5–1 pound in weight
  • Origin: Breeds in Eurasia, winters in Africa and southern Asia, occasional sightings in Alaska.

Garganeys are small dabbling ducks known for their distinctive appearance. The males exhibit a multi-patterned plumage, featuring a black line from the top of their head running down to their neck. Above their eye, there’s a striking white line that extends down to their back. Their face and throat are brown with unique lining, and their back displays gray, black, and white stripes. The belly is grayish-white. In flight, you can spot a green or blue line with white borders on their wings.

On the other hand, female Garganeys have different feather patterns. They lack the vertical stripe above the eye and are mostly dark brown all over, with a scaly pattern on their back, chest, and belly.

Garganeys typically breed in Eurasia and spend their winters in Africa and southern Asia. However, some individuals occasionally wander into Alaska.

You can find Garganeys in habitats near shallow freshwater lakes, reedy wetlands, and marshes with abundant vegetation along the edges.

White-cheeked Pintail

  • Scientific Name: Anas bahamensis
  • Lifespan: 5–10 years
  • Size: 19–21 inches in length, 1–2 pounds in weight
  • Origin: Found in the Caribbean, South America, and occasionally in southeastern US states.

The White-cheeked Pintail, also known as the Bahama Pintail or summer duck, is a dabbling duck that boasts captivating features. Both males and females share similar appearances. They have brown foreheads and napes with streaked patterns and a white patch extending from their cheek to their throat. Their bills are blue and feature a distinct red spot at the base. The rest of their bodies are adorned with black and brown spots.

These pintails are typically found in the Caribbean and South America, but they can also be spotted in southeastern US states.

White-cheeked Pintails prefer saltwater habitats like lagoons, rocky or sandy seashores, and mangroves. Additionally, they may be found near rivers, lakes, and ponds. On rare occasions, they may venture into brackish water and shallow marshes.

Common Pochard

  • Scientific Name: Aythya ferina
  • Lifespan: 10–15 years
  • Size: 16–21 inches in length, 1.5–3 pounds in weight
  • Origin: Found in Eurasia and Africa, with occasional sightings in Alaska.

Common Pochards are medium-sized, graceful-looking birds with distinct sexual dimorphism. Males sport bold red heads and throats, characterized by long black bills with a gray band in the middle. They also have black bellies, white backs and flanks, and black tails. The striking feature is their red eyes.

Females, while less visually striking than males, exhibit stunning patterns. They are mostly brown with scalloped patterns and possess gray-brown backs and flanks. Females share the same long, black bill with the gray band seen in males.

Common Pochards are typically found in Eurasia and Africa, although they may occasionally appear in Alaska.

You can spot Common Pochards in various water habitats such as lakes, reservoirs, slow-moving rivers, and marshes. They prefer areas with dense shoreline vegetation and a water depth suitable for diving. While they may occasionally be found in brackish water areas, they primarily favor freshwater habitats.

Final Thoughts on Ducks with Brown Heads

Our journey into the captivating world of ducks with brown heads has been a delightful exploration of nature’s diversity. From the various shapes and sizes to their choice of habitats, these ducks bring a special flair to the wild.

Whether you find them at a peaceful pond, a flowing river, or a serene lake, there’s always something enchanting about spotting these waterfowl. Their distinctiveness adds an extra layer of beauty to the landscapes they inhabit.

As we wrap up our close-up on these remarkable ducks, let’s carry with us the appreciation for the unique charm they bring to the avian scene. The next time you’re near the water, keep an eye out for these feathered showstoppers and enjoy the wonderful tapestry of nature they contribute to. Happy duck watching!

I'm Nauman Afridi, the bird enthusiast behind Birdsology.com. My lifelong passion for birds has led me to create a space where fellow bird lovers can find valuable insights and tips on caring for our feathered friends. Professionally, I'm a brand strategist and digital marketing consultant, bringing a unique perspective to the world of bird care. Whether you're a novice or an experienced bird owner, Birdsology.com is designed to be a welcoming community for all. Feel free to explore, and reach out if you have any questions or just want to chat about birds.
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