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20 Ducks in Indiana [Images + IDs]

Indiana, a state blessed with natural wonders and a variety of wildlife, stands as a haven for bird enthusiasts, especially those enchanted by the world of ducks. The state’s abundance of wetlands, rivers, and lakes creates perfect sanctuaries for a diverse array of duck species.

From the widely recognized Mallard to the graceful Wood Duck, each species contributes a distinctive burst of color and vitality to Indiana’s waterways. This article delves into the captivating universe of Indiana’s ducks, shedding light on their habitats, behaviors, and the subtle characteristics that set each species apart.

Whether you’re an experienced birder or simply someone who revels in the beauty of nature, the ducks of Indiana provide an enthralling peek into the avian realm.

List of Ducks in Indiana

1. Mallard

  • Scientific Name: Anas platyrhynchos
  • Life Span: 5-10 years
  • Size: 50-65 cm (20-26 in)
  • Weight: 700-1600 g (1.5-3.5 lb)
  • Wingspan: 81-98 cm (32-39 in)
  • Status: Least Concern
  • State Status: Breeding and common

The Mallard, known for its incredible adaptability, graces water bodies across North America, Europe, and Asia. Distinguished by iridescent green heads (males) and mottled brown appearances (females), Mallards add a vivid spectacle to lakes and ponds. Nesting in Indiana, Mallards exhibit a charming domesticity, crafting nests in dense vegetation near water, lined with down plucked from the female’s own breast.

Mallards in Indiana display a varied diet, grazing on aquatic plants, seeds, and small invertebrates. Conservation efforts focus on habitat preservation, ensuring these ducks thrive amidst the diverse ecosystems of Indiana.

Mallard

2. Northern Pintail

  • Scientific Name: Anas acuta
  • Life Span: 10-15 years
  • Size: 56-66 cm (22-26 in)
  • Weight: 450-1150 g (1-2.5 lb)
  • Wingspan: 80-95 cm (31-38 in)
  • Status: Least Concern
  • State Status: Migratory and common

Sleek and elegant, the Northern Pintail graces areas across continents. Recognizable by their long, pointed tails and striking plumage, Northern Pintails nest in open fields or marshes. In Indiana, they thrive on a diet of seeds, aquatic insects, and crustaceans, foraging with graceful precision. Conservation efforts play a crucial role in maintaining the pintail population, showcasing Indiana’s commitment to preserving its waterfowl heritage.

Northern Pintail

3. Northern Shoveler

  • Scientific Name: Spatula clypeata
  • Life Span: 10-15 years
  • Size: 43-53 cm (17-21 in)
  • Weight: 400-1100 g (0.88-2.4 lb)
  • Wingspan: 74-86 cm (29-34 in)
  • Status: Least Concern
  • State Status: Migratory and common

Inhabiting wetlands globally, the Northern Shoveler stands out with its unique spatula-shaped bill. Vibrant males and subtly patterned females nest in quiet marshes. Thriving on a diet sifted through their distinctive bills, they contribute to Indiana’s wetland diversity. Conservation efforts underscore the success of preserving their habitats, highlighting Indiana’s dedication to ecological stewardship.

Northern Shoveler

4. Lesser Scaup

  • Scientific Name: Aythya affinis
  • Life Span: 12-15 years
  • Size: 38-48 cm (15-19 in)
  • Weight: 400-1000 g (0.88-2.2 lb)
  • Wingspan: 64-74 cm (25-29 in)
  • Status: Least Concern
  • State Status: Migratory and common

Adorning freshwater lakes, Lesser Scaups captivate with their compact bodies. Nesting in dense wetland vegetation, they feast on aquatic invertebrates and plants. Conservation efforts emphasize habitat protection, ensuring the harmonious continuation of their life cycle in Indiana’s wetlands.

Lesser Scaup

5. American Wigeon

  • Scientific Name: Mareca americana
  • Life Span: 12-15 years
  • Size: 42-59 cm (17-23 in)
  • Weight: 600-1200 g (1.3-2.6 lb)
  • Wingspan: 76-91 cm (30-36 in)
  • Status: Least Concern
  • State Status: Migratory and common

Visiting North and South America, the American Wigeon presents a striking appearance. Nesting in hidden, grassy areas, they feast on aquatic plants in Indiana’s wetlands. Conservation efforts, focusing on preserving and restoring wetlands, showcase Indiana’s commitment to maintaining its diverse avian population.

American Wigeon

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6. Wood Duck

Scientific name: Aix sponsa
Life span: 5-10 years
Size: 48-54 cm (19-21 in)
Weight: 454-862 g (1-1.9 lb)
Wingspan: 66-73 cm (26-29 in)
Status: Least Concern
State status: Breeding and common

Residing primarily in North America, the Wood Duck is a bird of stunning beauty. Males boast iridescent plumage in multiple colors with a distinctive crested head, while females are elegantly patterned in brown and white, with a distinctive eye patch.

Wood Duck

The Wood Duck shows a preference for nesting in tree cavities near water. The female skillfully prepares the nest, lining it with down. This arboreal nesting provides a haven for her eggs, high above potential ground predators.

Wood Ducks in Indiana have a diverse diet, including seeds, fruits, and aquatic insects. Their foraging habits are a sight to behold, as they gracefully maneuver through the water or forage on land, showcasing their adaptability and elegance.

The conservation story of the Wood Duck in Indiana is one of remarkable recovery, thanks to dedicated efforts in habitat management and the provision of nesting boxes. These measures have played a significant role in the resurgence of this stunningly beautiful bird.

7. Blue-winged Teal

Scientific name: Spatula discors
Life span: 5-10 years
Size: 40-47 cm (16-19 in)
Weight: 280-420 g (9.9-14.8 oz)
Wingspan: 58-63 cm (23-25 in)
Status: Least Concern
State status: Migratory and common

Found throughout North and South America, the Blue-winged Teal is a small duck with a namesake blue patch on its wings. Males have a bold white crescent on their face, contrasting with their speckled brown body, while females are uniformly brown.

Blue-winged Teal

The Blue-winged Teal finds its nesting haven in wetland areas like many other ducks. The female meticulously constructs her nest on the ground, often in tall grass or reeds, weaving a sheltered spot where she lovingly incubates her eggs.

These teals thrive on a diet rich in seeds and aquatic invertebrates, making the most of Indiana’s abundant wetlands. They forage with a dainty flair, often in shallow waters, where they gracefully pick and sieve food items with their petite bills.

Indiana’s conservation efforts for the Blue-winged Teal focus on wetland preservation and management. These initiatives have been crucial in providing suitable habitats, ensuring that the teal population remains a vibrant and integral part of the state’s ecosystem.

8. Gadwall

Scientific name: Mareca strepera
Life span: 5-10 years
Size: 46-56 cm (18-22 in)
Weight: 800-1,350 g (1.8-3 lb)
Wingspan: 81-95 cm (32-37 in)
Status: Least Concern
State status: Breeding and common

Gadwalls are widespread across North America, Europe, and Asia. They exude an understated elegance, with males showcasing a mottled gray body and black rear, and females adorned in a more camouflaged brown. Both sexes have a distinct white wing patch, noticeable in flight.

Gadwall

In Indiana, the Gadwall prefers the solitude of secluded wetlands for nesting. The female creates a cozy nest among tall grasses, skillfully camouflaged and lined with down. This hidden nest serves as a serene nursery for her eggs, a testament to her dedication and care.

The Gadwall’s diet in Indiana is an aquatic buffet, consisting mainly of plant material like seeds, stems, and leaves of aquatic vegetation. They forage with a quiet elegance, skimming the water’s surface, embodying the peaceful essence of Indiana’s wetlands.

Gadwalls have benefited from Indiana’s concerted conservation efforts, particularly in the preservation of wetlands. These initiatives have not only aided the Gadwall but also contributed to the ecological richness of the state, ensuring a balanced and thriving ecosystem.

9. Green-winged Teal

Scientific name: Anas crecca
Life span: 5-10 years
Size: 33-38 cm (13-15 in)
Weight: 150-400 g (5.3-14.1 oz)
Wingspan: 53-59 cm (21-23 in)
Status: Least Concern
State status: Migratory and common

The Green-winged Teal, among the smallest of North American ducks, chooses the secluded corners of wetlands for nesting. The female, with great care, builds a hidden nest on the ground, using surrounding vegetation to create a safe, warm environment for her eggs.

Green-winged Teal

This bird’s diet in Indiana consists of seeds, aquatic plants, and small invertebrates. They forage in the shallow waters of marshes and ponds, often seen dabbling around with a zestful energy that is truly a delight to observe.

Conservation for the Green-winged Teal in Indiana involves protecting wetland habitats, crucial for their survival. These efforts highlight Indiana’s dedication to preserving its natural biodiversity and the well-being of its avian inhabitants.

10. American Black Duck

Scientific name: Anas rubripes
Life span: 5-10 years
Size: 54-63 cm (21-25 in)
Weight: 727-1,380 g (1.6-3 lb)
Wingspan: 91-102 cm (36-40 in)
Status: Least Concern
State status: Migratory and common

American Black Duck

Native to eastern North America, the American Black Duck resembles the female Mallard but is darker overall. Both sexes have a uniform dark brown body contrasted with lighter brown heads, and in flight, their purple-blue wing patches become visible.

American Black Ducks favor the secluded marshlands for nesting. The female creates a hidden nest on the ground, using vegetation and her own down. This discreet nesting strategy ensures the safety and warmth of her eggs in the serene wetlands.

These ducks indulge in a varied diet of aquatic vegetation, seeds, and small invertebrates. Indiana’s lush wetlands provide an ideal foraging ground, where they can be seen dabbling and upending in the water, a testament to their resourcefulness and adaptability.

In Indiana, the focus of conservation for the American Black Duck has been on preserving wetland habitats. These efforts are vital for maintaining the population, reflecting the state’s ongoing commitment to its natural wildlife and their habitats.

11. Ring-necked Duck

Scientific name: Aythya collaris
Life span: 5-10 years
Size: 39-46 cm (15-18 in)
Weight: 680-1,360 g (1.5-3 lb)
Wingspan: 63-76 cm (25-30 in)
Status: Least Concern
State status: Migratory and common

Ring-necked Duck

Inhabiting lakes and ponds across North America, the Ring-necked Duck is a diver with a subtle ring on its neck. Males have a black back and white sides, while females are generally brown, both with a distinct white ring on the bill.

Nestled in dense vegetation near water, Ring-necked Ducks create a private nursery for their young. The female meticulously shapes her nest, a testament to nature’s ingenuity, ensuring her offspring are cradled in security.

These ducks are connoisseurs of seeds and aquatic invertebrates. Each foray into the water is a quest for the perfect meal, a dance between hunter and hunted in the ever-changing tapestry of their watery realm.

The survival of Ring-necked Ducks hinges on wetland conservation. Efforts have been made to protect these habitats, ensuring that these beautiful birds continue to thrive and add their unique brushstroke to the biodiversity canvas.

12. Redhead

Scientific name: Aythya americana
Life span: 10-15 years
Size: 42-49 cm (17-19 in)
Weight: 850-1,600 g (1.9-3.5 lb)
Wingspan: 76-84 cm (30-33 in)
Status: Least Concern
State status: Migratory and uncommon

Redhead

Found across North America, the Redhead is easily identified by the male’s distinctive red head and gray body. Females are more subtly colored, with a brownish body, making them blend in with their surroundings.

Redheads are the architects of the bird world, constructing nests over water using reeds and grasses. Their nests are floating wonders, secret hideaways where they lay their eggs, like precious jewels carefully tucked away in nature’s embrace.

With a penchant for aquatic plants and invertebrates, Redheads are like gourmet diners of the wetlands. They delve into the depths, selecting the finest morsels, displaying a discerning taste that reflects the rich bounty of their habitat.

Conservation of Redheads has been a journey of dedication. Efforts to preserve wetlands and educate the public have been instrumental in safeguarding these elegant birds, ensuring they continue to adorn our lakes and marshes.

13. Bufflehead

Scientific name: Bucephala albeola
Life span: 12-15 years
Size: 32-40 cm (13-16 in)
Weight: 270-550 g (9.5-19.4 oz)
Wingspan: 46-54 cm (18-21 in)
Status: Least Concern
State status: Migratory and common

The Bufflehead, a small diving duck, breeds in Canada and migrates to the United States for winter. Males are unmistakable with their large white head patch and black back, while females are more subdued with a white cheek patch.

Bufflehead

Buffleheads exhibit a unique nesting behavior, preferring tree cavities near water bodies. The female lines the nest with her down, creating a cozy, secure environment for her eggs. This preference for arboreal nesting helps protect their young from various ground-based threats.

These small ducks feast on a diet of aquatic invertebrates and some plant material. In the waters of Indiana, they dive skillfully, disappearing beneath the surface in search of food, embodying a blend of vigor and grace unique to this species.

Conservation efforts for the Bufflehead in Indiana have focused on preserving their habitat, particularly the availability of suitable nesting sites. These measures have helped ensure the continued presence of this charming and spirited bird in the state’s aquatic landscapes.

14. Ruddy Duck

Scientific name: Oxyura jamaicensis
Life span: 6-8 years
Size: 36-43 cm (14-17 in)
Weight: 430-790 g (0.95-1.74 lb)
Wingspan: 61-74 cm (24-29 in)
Status: Least Concern
State status: Migratory and common

This compact duck with a bright blue bill (in males during breeding season) is found across North America and into South America. Males have a striking chestnut body and a black head, while females are mottled brown.

Ruddy Duck

Ruddy Ducks create cozy homes in dense marsh vegetation, often in shallow water. With an artistic flair, the female weaves together a platform of grasses and anchors it to surrounding plants. It’s like watching a skilled artisan at work, delicately crafting a safe haven for her precious eggs.

These ducks are underwater acrobats, diving with grace to forage on seeds, roots, and aquatic insects. Picture them as submerged ballerinas, elegantly twirling through the water, each dive a quest for nourishing tidbits in their aquatic world.

Ruddy Ducks have faced challenges, yet conservationists have stepped in like guardians. Efforts include habitat protection and monitoring, ensuring these charismatic birds continue to grace our waters with their presence and vitality.

15. Canvasback

Scientific name: Aythya valisineria
Life span: 10-15 years
Size: 48-56 cm (19-22 in)
Weight: 1,270-1,800 g (2.8-4 lb)
Wingspan: 84-89 cm (33-35 in)
Status: Vulnerable
State status: Migratory and common

The Canvasback, found across North America, is notable for its sloping profile and reddish head in males. Both sexes have a white body contrasting with a darker back, making them stand out among other waterfowl.

Canvasback

Like many other ducks on this list, the Canvasback makes its nest in the quiet of wetlands. The female builds a floating nest anchored to vegetation, creating a secure and buoyant haven for her eggs amidst the tranquil waters.

In Indiana’s waterways, Canvasbacks relish a diet primarily of aquatic plants, supplemented by mollusks and aquatic insects. They are skilled divers, plunging into the depths with ease, a testament to their adaptation to life in watery realms.

The conservation of Canvasbacks in Indiana has centered around the preservation of wetlands. These efforts have been instrumental in providing suitable foraging and nesting habitats, ensuring the survival and prosperity of this elegant waterfowl.

16. Greater Scaup

Scientific name: Aythya marila
Life span: 10-20 years
Size: 41-51 cm (16-20 in)
Weight: 900-1,600 g (2-3.5 lb)
Wingspan: 81-87 cm (32-34 in)
Status: Least Concern
State status: Migratory and common

The Greater Scaup, a robust and hardy bird, frequents the coastal waters of the northern hemisphere, including North America and Eurasia. It boasts a more substantial build than its Lesser counterpart.

Greater Scaup

The male dazzles with a dark, iridescent head and a clean, white body, while the female is cloaked in a warm brown, with a discernible white patch near the bill. Their broad, rounded heads are a defining characteristic.

Greater Scaups build their nests in secluded spots near water. It’s a ritual of creation, where each nest is a testament to the instinctual drive to protect and nurture their young in the wild tapestry of nature.

They mainly consume mollusks and aquatic plants. Every meal is a dive into a rich, underwater world, a blend of survival instinct and ecological harmony, reflecting the diversity of their aquatic ecosystem.

Conservation efforts for Greater Scaups focus on preserving their breeding and wintering grounds. These initiatives are a pledge to future generations, ensuring that these vibrant ducks continue their age-old cycle of life in our shared environment.

17. Hooded Merganser

Scientific name: Lophodytes cucullatus
Life span: 6-12 years
Size: 40-49 cm (16-19 in)
Weight: 400-700 g (0.88-1.54 lb)
Wingspan: 63-76 cm (25-30 in)
Status: Least Concern
State status: Breeding and common

The Hooded Merganser, found across North America, is known for the male’s spectacular white, fan-shaped crest. Females have a more subdued crest and are mottled brown, making them less conspicuous.

Hooded Merganser

Hooded Mergansers prefer tree cavities near water for their nests. It’s a magical sight, reminiscent of a secret woodland abode, where they nurture their young in the quiet serenity of the forest.

These birds are skilled fishers, diving with precision to catch fish and crustaceans. Each dive is a display of agility and grace, a testament to their mastery as predators in their aquatic hunting grounds.

Protecting wooded wetlands is crucial for Hooded Merganser conservation. The efforts to conserve these habitats reflect a deep understanding of the interconnectedness of ecosystems, ensuring these enchanting birds continue to flourish.

18. Red-breasted Merganser

Scientific name: Mergus serrator
Life span: 9-14 years
Size: 54-62 cm (21-24 in)
Weight: 700-1,600 g (1.5-3.5 lb)
Wingspan: 66-81 cm (26-32 in)
Status: Least Concern
State status: Breeding and common

This large, fish-eating duck breeds in the northern regions of North America, Europe, and Asia. Males have a distinctive spiky crest and a red breast, while females feature a gray body and a redder head compared to the Hooded Merganser.

Red-breasted Merganser

Red-breasted Mergansers nest on the ground near water, hidden in vegetation. This discreet approach to nesting is like a secret ritual, a careful preparation to welcome new life in a safe, sheltered environment.

Primarily fish eaters, they exhibit remarkable diving skills. Each dive is an adventure, a spirited plunge into the underwater world in pursuit of their next meal, showcasing their adaptability and prowess.

Conservation of Red-breasted Mergansers focuses on safeguarding their coastal and freshwater habitats. These efforts symbolize a commitment to preserve not just a species, but the entire tapestry of life they represent.

19. Common Goldeneye

Scientific name: Bucephala clangula
Life span: 6-12 years
Size: 40-51 cm (16-20 in)
Weight: 800-1,550 g (1.8-3.4 lb)
Wingspan: 66-81 cm (26-32 in)
Status: Least Concern
State status: Breeding and common

The Common Goldeneye, a diving duck, breeds in Canada and the northern United States, wintering further south. Males have a striking appearance with a greenish-black head and a prominent white spot near the bill, while females are gray with a brown head.

Common Goldeneye

Common Goldeneyes are unique in their choice of tree cavities for nesting. It’s like watching a whimsical fairy tale unfold, as these ducks find solace high above ground, a skyward haven for their eggs.

Their diet is a diverse buffet of fish, crustaceans, and insects. Imagine them as underwater hunters, skillfully navigating the depths to capture their next meal, a dynamic interplay of predator and prey.

Conservation for Common Goldeneyes involves protecting their unique nesting sites. Efforts to preserve old-growth forests and provide nesting boxes have been key to maintaining their populations, a symbol of humanity’s commitment to coexist with nature.

20. Common Merganser

Scientific name: Mergus merganser
Life span: 5-12 years
Size: 22-25 in / 56-64 cm
Weight: 2.2-3.1 lbs / 1.0-1.4 kg
Wingspan: 26-30 in / 66-76 cm
Status: Least Concern
State status: Migratory and common

The Common Merganser, a bird of elegance and poise, graces the northern lakes and rivers of North America, Europe, and Asia. This avian marvel boasts a sleek, elongated body, with males flaunting a striking contrast of crisp, white underparts against a glossy, green-black head. Females are equally captivating with their cinnamon-hued heads and gray bodies.

Common Merganser

Common Mergansers choose tree cavities or nest boxes near water. It’s like witnessing a storybook scene, where each nest is a cherished fortress, ensuring the safety and comfort of their future offspring.

Their diet consists mostly of fish, captured with expert diving. Each hunt is a display of natural athleticism, a powerful testament to their role as skilled hunters in their aquatic domain.

Conserving Common Mergansers involves a focus on maintaining clean rivers and lakes. This conservation story is one of balance and respect, ensuring these majestic birds continue to soar and dive in our waterways.

Where to find Ducks in Indiana

Indiana, with its rich wetlands and diverse ecosystems, offers excellent opportunities for duck watching. To find ducks, visit areas where water is abundant, such as lakes, rivers, and marshes, especially during migration seasons. Early morning or late afternoon are typically the best times for observation.

  • Goose Pond Fish & Wildlife Area: A haven for waterfowl, this area’s expansive wetlands attract a diverse array of ducks, especially during migrations.
  • Eagle Creek Park: One of the largest city parks in the country, offering a mix of reservoir and woodland habitats suitable for duck spotting.
  • Patoka River National Wildlife Refuge: This refuge provides rich wetland environments that are ideal for observing waterfowl in their natural setting.
  • Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge: Known for its wetlands and waterways, this refuge is a hotspot for various duck species.

For successful duck watching in Indiana, visit these areas with water sources like lakes and marshes, preferably during early morning or late afternoon. Equip yourself with binoculars and a field guide to enhance your birdwatching experience.

Final Thoughts

The diverse array of ducks in Indiana, from the playful Ruddy Duck to the majestic Greater Scaup, embodies the richness of the state’s wetlands and waterways. Their varied nesting behaviors, diets, and concerted conservation efforts highlight the intricate balance of nature. These birds are not just a part of Indiana’s natural heritage but also a vital indicator of the health of its ecosystems, deserving our admiration and continued protection for generations to come.

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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