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23 Ducks in Texas [Images + IDs]

Texas, with its expansive landscapes and abundant waterways, offers a picturesque backdrop to the captivating world of ducks. This article embarks on a journey through the Lone Star State, unraveling the seasonal behaviors, migratory patterns, and breeding habits of its diverse duck species.

List of Ducks Found in Texas

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, a ubiquitous presence across North America, Europe, and Asia, graces Texas with its vibrant presence. Males boast glossy green heads, while females, with their mottled brown plumage, expertly blend into their surroundings.

Mallard

In the heart of Texas, Mallards exhibit remarkable architectural skills, crafting nests in dense vegetation near water. Opportunistic feeders, forage for aquatic plants, seeds, and small invertebrates, contributing to the dynamic ecosystem.

Despite past declines, Mallards in Texas have rebounded, thanks to dedicated wetland conservation efforts, ensuring their quacks continue to resonate across the state.

2. 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: Breeding and common

Blue-winged Teals, discreet nesters in Texas, reveal their elegance with bold white facial crescents and speckled brown bodies. Their secretive ground nests, often far from water, emphasize their adaptability.

Blue-winged Teal

Thriving in Texan wetlands, they showcase versatility in their diet, dabbling for seeds, aquatic plants, and small invertebrates. Conservation efforts have stabilized their populations, underlining the significance of ongoing habitat preservation.

3. 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

The Gadwall, epitomizing understated elegance, finds refuge in the calm waters of Texas. Males exhibit subtly patterned grey bodies, while females seamlessly blend with their surroundings in mottled brown.

Gadwall

Choosing secluded spots in dense marsh vegetation, Gadwalls in Texas play a vital role as underwater gardeners, primarily feeding on aquatic vegetation. Conservation success stories highlight the positive impact of wetland restoration on Gadwall populations.

4. 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 sea duck, boasts a striking black and white pattern, with males exhibiting a large white patch on the back of the head. Nesting in tree-lined lakes and ponds, their dependence on specific nesting sites highlights their vulnerability to habitat loss.

Bufflehead

Adept hunters in their underwater realm, Buffleheads primarily feed on aquatic invertebrates. Conservation efforts focus on preserving forested wetlands and monitoring tree cavity availability to safeguard their habitats.

5. Cinnamon Teal

  • Scientific name: Spatula cyanoptera
  • Life span: 7-10 years
  • Size: 15-16 in (38-41 cm)
  • Weight: 12-15 oz (340-425 grams)
  • Wingspan: 24-26 in (61-66 cm)
  • Status: Least Concern
  • State status: Breeding and rare

The Cinnamon Teal, breeding in the western Americas and migrating to South America, adds a splash of color to Texas wetlands. Ground-nesting connoisseurs, they choose sites near water, their nests reflecting instinctual craftsmanship.

Cinnamon Teal

With a primarily herbivorous diet rich in aquatic plants, Cinnamon Teals benefit from wetland conservation efforts, ensuring the continued vibrancy of Texas wetlands.

6. 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

The American Wigeon, a dapper bird spanning from North America to Central America, showcases a distinctive white forehead and green stripe. Nesting in seclusion, their quirky behavior of stealing food from other ducks adds a unique touch to their story.

American Wigeon

Favoring lush, green vegetation, American Wigeons are aquatic grazers, adapting their diet to varied habitats. Conservation efforts focus on maintaining wetlands and grasslands, ensuring the cautious optimism of their stable populations in Texas.

7. 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: Breeding and common

The smallest of North American ducks, the Green-winged Teal breeds across the northern regions and winters in the southern U.S. and Central America. Males are ornate with chestnut heads, green eye patches, and grey bodies, while females are a subtle brown, adept at blending into their marshy homes.

Green-winged Teal

Green-winged Teals are architects of secrecy. They prefer nesting in dense cover near water, crafting their nests on the ground, hidden among tall grasses or under shrubs. Their nests, cozy bowls lined with down, cradle their precious eggs.

These small ducks are opportunistic feeders. They dabble at the water’s surface, sifting through mud for seeds, aquatic plants, and insects. Their diet is a smorgasbord of nature’s offerings, reflecting the richness of their habitats.

Green-winged Teals, with their resilience and adaptability, face fewer threats than other waterfowl. Conservation efforts focus on preserving wetlands, ensuring these ducks continue to grace Texas with their presence.

8. Harlequin Duck

  • Scientific name: Histrionicus histrionicus
  • Life span: 5-12 years
  • Size: 15-18 in / 38-46 cm
  • Weight: 1.2-1.4 lbs / 550-650 g
  • Wingspan: 26-29 in / 66-74 cm
  • Status: Least Concern
  • State status: Migratory and rare

Native to the coastal waters of North America and eastern Russia, the Harlequin Duck is a true spectacle. Males are adorned with a striking blue, black, and white pattern with chestnut highlights, while females are a more subdued grey-brown, designed for blending into rocky coastlines.

Harlequin Duck

Harlequin Ducks seek the solace of fast-flowing streams for their homes, often in the nooks of riverbanks or under the shelter of overhanging rocks. These ducks craft their nests with a blend of moss and down, creating a cozy haven for their ducklings.

Thriving in turbulent waters, they feast on aquatic insects, small fish, and crustaceans. These ducks dive with grace, navigating the swift currents to catch their prey.

Conservation efforts for Harlequin Ducks are like preserving a piece of art. Once threatened by habitat loss and oil spills, these ducks have become symbols of successful conservation stories. Efforts include protecting their breeding and wintering habitats and monitoring populations.

9. Black-bellied Whistling-Duck

  • Scientific name: Dendrocygna autumnalis
  • Life span: 8-15 years
  • Size: 17-20 in (43-51 cm)
  • Weight: 18-35 oz (510-990 grams)
  • Wingspan: 28-30 in (71-76 cm)
  • Status: Least Concern
  • State status: Breeding and common

Standing tall and slender, this bird is a common sight in the southern U.S., Mexico, and Central America. It has a striking appearance with a bright pink bill, black belly, and rich chestnut plumage. Its red legs and distinctive whistling call make it a unique presence in wetlands.

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck

Unique among their kin, though quite like the Wood Duck, Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks often nest in tree cavities or in nest boxes. They adapt to urban environments, bringing a touch of wildness to human-dominated landscapes.

These ducks are predominantly herbivores, feasting on a variety of seeds and grains. In agricultural areas, they’re often seen foraging in fields, a testament to their adaptability.

While not currently endangered, the preservation of their nesting habitats, especially in urban areas, is crucial. Conservation efforts focus on habitat enhancement and monitoring population trends.

10. 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

These small, stout ducks are found across North America, wintering in Central America. Males are notable for their bright blue bills during the breeding season, contrasting with their chestnut bodies and blackish heads. Females are more unassuming, with mottled brown plumage and a darker bill.

Ruddy Duck

Ruddy Ducks build their nests among dense marsh vegetation. These compact nests, often anchored to plants, float on the water’s surface, a hidden cradle for their eggs.

Their diet includes a variety of aquatic invertebrates and plant seeds. Diving and dabbling, they are active foragers, thriving in the rich wetland ecosystems.

Conservation efforts for Ruddy Ducks focus on protecting wetlands from pollution and encroachment. Their well-being is closely tied to the health of these ecosystems.

11. Fulvous Whistling Duck

  • Scientific name: Dendrocygna bicolor
  • Life span: 5-7 years
  • Size: 91-106 cm (36-42 in)
  • Weight: (Not provided)
  • Wingspan: (Not provided)
  • Status: Least Concern
  • State status: Migratory and rare

Preferring warmer climates, the Fulvous Whistling Duck inhabits parts of the southern U.S., Central and South America, and parts of Africa and Asia. It is notable for its rich, fulvous (reddish-brown) plumage, long neck, and legs, and distinctive whistling call, echoing across its wetland habitats.

Fulvous Whistling Duck

Preferring the dense cover of marshes, Fulvous Whistling-Ducks create nests on the ground. Their nesting sites, often reed-lined, offer a sanctuary amidst the waters.

Their diet is a mosaic of seeds, grains, and aquatic plants. These ducks are often found foraging in flooded fields, displaying their ecological versatility.

Conservation for these ducks revolves around maintaining wetland ecosystems. Their populations fluctuate, making habitat preservation key to their continued presence in Texas.

12. 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: Breeding and common

Inhabiting wetlands across North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa, the Northern Shoveler is easily recognized by its oversized, spatula-like bill. Males have a striking appearance with green heads, white chests, and chestnut sides, while females are a subdued mottled brown, with an orange bill tip.

Northern Shoveler

In Texas, Northern Shovelers nest on the ground, hidden in tall grass or reeds. The female meticulously constructs the nest, a hidden gem amidst the wild landscape.

With their unique, oversized bills, Northern Shovelers in Texas are like nature’s strainers. They skim the water’s surface, filtering out tiny aquatic creatures and plants, a testament to nature’s ingenuity.

Conservation efforts for Northern Shovelers in Texas have centered on preserving wetlands. While their populations are currently stable, continuous efforts are needed to ensure these unique-billed ducks continue to grace Texas waters.

13. 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

A frequent visitor to freshwater lakes and ponds across North America, the Ring-necked Duck is subtly handsome. Males have a black head, grey sides, and a barely visible brown neck ring, while females are a mottled brown with a white eye ring, providing them with effective camouflage.

Ring-necked Duck

Ring-necked Ducks nest near water, often in dense vegetation. These well-hidden nests ensure the safety of their ducklings, a silent promise of protection amid the reeds.

Their diet consists mainly of aquatic vegetation and invertebrates. They are skilled divers, plunging into the water in search of sustenance, a dance of survival and grace.

These ducks benefit from efforts to preserve freshwater habitats. Conservation strategies include monitoring populations and protecting critical nesting and feeding areas.

14. Common Merganser

  • Scientific name: Mergus merganser
  • Life span: 10-15 years
  • Size: 22-28 in (56-71 cm)
  • Weight: 2-4 lbs (0.9-1.8 kg)
  • Wingspan: 26-29 in (66-74 cm)
  • Status: Least Concern
  • State status: Migratory and common

These large ducks are widespread across the Northern Hemisphere, favoring rivers and lakes. Males are sleek with dark green heads, red bills, and crisp white bodies, while females have grey bodies and cinnamon heads with a distinctive shaggy crest, adding to their regal appearance.

Common Merganser

Preferring tree cavities or nest boxes, Common Mergansers demonstrate a love for forested waterways. Their high nesting sites offer a panoramic view and safety for their ducklings.

Fish dominate their diet, reflecting their skill as underwater hunters. These ducks are adept at navigating both rivers and lakes, a fluid mastery of their aquatic domains.

Conservation strategies focus on preserving riverine and lacustrine habitats. Efforts include ensuring clean water and protecting nesting areas from human disturbance.

15. Long-tailed Duck

  • Scientific name: Clangula hyemalis
  • Life span: 6-12 years
  • Size: 43-58 cm (17-23 in)
  • Weight: 430-1,160 g (0.95-2.6 lb)
  • Wingspan: 61-84 cm (24-33 in)
  • Status: Least Concern
  • State status: Migratory and rare

Inhabiting the colder regions of the Northern Hemisphere, the Long-tailed Duck is unique for its elongated tail feathers. Males have a dramatic black and white winter plumage with long central tail feathers, while in summer, they turn mostly dark. Females are more subtle, with brownish plumage and shorter tails.

Long-tailed Duck

Preferring the open tundra’s barren beauty, they nest in shallow depressions lined with plant material and feathers. Their nesting behavior relies on the vast, open landscapes and the warmth of their down to protect their eggs from the Arctic chill.

Their menu ranges from small fish to mollusks, diving deep into icy waters with impressive endurance. They are changing their diet with the seasons and demonstrating remarkable adaptability in their foraging habits.

They face challenges from habitat changes due to global warming and oil pollution. Conservationists are tirelessly working to understand these impacts and create strategies to mitigate them.

16. 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: Breeding and common

The Northern Pintail, found across the Northern Hemisphere, is a graceful bird with distinctive features. Males boast a chocolate-brown head, white breast, and greyish body, while females display a mottled brown appearance. Their slender shape sets them apart among ducks.

Northern Pintail

In Texas, Northern Pintails choose open fields or marsh edges for nesting, with females expertly camouflaging their nests. Foraging in Texas fields and waters, they exhibit adaptability by consuming seeds, aquatic plants, and invertebrates. Conservation efforts, including wetland preservation and agricultural policy changes, have led to a resurgence in their numbers, portraying a hopeful future.

17. 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

Breeding in North America and wintering as far south as Mexico, the Canvasback is recognized for its distinctive sloping profile. Males feature a striking red head and neck, black chest, and light grey body, resembling canvas. Females have a more subdued brown appearance.

Canvasback

Canvasbacks nest in the seclusion of marsh vegetation, with well-concealed nests floating in shallow water. Their diet consists mainly of aquatic tubers, supplemented by insects and small fish. Conservation efforts focus on preserving and restoring aquatic habitats, using Canvasbacks as indicators of wetland health.

18. 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

This spectacular bird graces wooded swamps and streams across North America. Males have iridescent green and purple heads, red eyes, and patterned bodies, while females are elegant with grey-brown plumage and white eye-rings.

Wood Duck

Wood Ducks are adept at arboreal nesting, choosing tree cavities near water bodies. Their diet includes seeds, fruits, insects, and small fish, showcasing dietary versatility. Conservation success stories involve nest box programs and habitat restoration efforts that significantly boosted Wood Duck numbers.

19. 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: Migratory and common

This small duck inhabits rivers and ponds across North America. Males are dramatic with a large white crest on their black heads, contrasting with brown sides and white chests. Females have mottled brown plumage and a smaller crest.

Hooded Merganser

Hooded Mergansers choose tree cavities for nesting, adding feathers for a warm environment. Their diet includes fish, crustaceans, and insects, with specialized serrated beaks for catching slippery prey. Conservation efforts focus on protecting nesting habitats and sustainable habitat management.

20. 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: Migratory and common

Found in North America, Europe, and Asia, this sea duck is known for its thin, pointed bill. Males have a dark green head, reddish-brown breast, and grey body, while females have a greyish body and rusty head, crowned with a shaggy crest.

t times, as many duck species migrate during these seasons. Additionally, early mornings and late evenings are prime times for duck activity.

21. 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 common

Inhabiting wetlands across North America, the Redhead is a medium-sized diving duck with males displaying vibrant red heads and necks. Females, in contrast, have a more subtle brown appearance, perfect for blending into marshy environments.

Redhead

Redheads often build nests in marshes, using reeds and grasses. These floating structures, anchored to vegetation, serve as avian architectural masterpieces, safeguarding their precious eggs. Their diet primarily consists of aquatic plants, showcasing adaptability to different aquatic environments, from shallow marshes to deep lakes. Conservation efforts include wetland preservation and restoration, with their thriving populations indicating the success of these measures.

22. 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: Migratory and common

Widespread across the Northern Hemisphere, the Common Goldeneye is a striking sea duck. Males feature a glossy green-black head with a prominent white spot near the bill, contrasting with their white body. Females exhibit a more muted elegance with a chocolate-brown head and mostly grey body.

Common Goldeneye

Common Goldeneyes prefer nesting in tree cavities, emphasizing a preference for wooded lakeshores. High nests help protect their young from ground predators, showcasing a strategic survival move. Avid consumers of aquatic invertebrates and fish, their diet reflects their prowess as divers. Conservation efforts revolve around habitat preservation, especially maintaining old growth forests near water bodies. Monitoring nest box use and implementing sustainable forest management practices are integral components of these efforts.

23. Mottled Duck

Scientific name: Anas fulvigula
Life span: 5-10 years
Size: 48-56 cm (19-22 in)
Weight: 600-1,070 g (1.3-2.4 lb)
Wingspan: 91-102 cm (36-40 in)
Status: Least Concern
State status: Breeding and common

Residing in the Gulf Coast and Florida, the Mottled Duck seamlessly blends into marshes and coastal prairies. Both males and females exhibit an unassuming mix of brown and buff plumage, providing excellent camouflage.

Mottled Duck

Mottled Ducks are secretive nesters, favoring dense marsh vegetation. Their nests are well-concealed havens, ensuring safety for their eggs amidst the marsh’s reeds. As generalists, their diet includes aquatic plants, seeds, and small aquatic creatures, reflecting the diversity of their marshland homes. With habitat loss posing a threat, conservation efforts focus on preserving coastal marshes and prairies, emphasizing advocacy and habitat management to sustain their populations.

Where to find Ducks in Texas

Finding ducks in Texas, a state renowned for its diverse wildlife offers a delightful experience for bird watchers and hunters alike. Locating ducks in Texas hinges on understanding their habitat preferences and migration patterns.

  • Coastal Wetlands: The Gulf Coast of Texas, including places like the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge and the San Bernard Wildlife Refuge, provides rich, marshy habitats attracting various duck species, especially during winter migrations.
  • Central Texas Lakes: Large lakes such as Lake Travis and Lake Buchanan in Central Texas are hotspots for ducks, offering ample food and shelter for both resident and migratory ducks.
  • East Texas Pineywoods: The Pineywoods region in East Texas, with its swamps and ponds, is another excellent area. Caddo Lake State Park, known for its cypress swamps, attracts a variety of duck species.
  • Panhandle Playas: The Texas Panhandle, with its playa lakes like those in the Muleshoe Wildlife Refuge, serves as vital habitats for migrating ducks. These shallow, seasonal wetlands are crucial stopovers for ducks traveling along the Central Flyway.

To successfully find ducks in these areas, it’s important to visit during the right season, as many duck species migrate during fall and winter. Early mornings and late evenings are prime times for duck activity.

the times, as this is when migratory species pass through Texas. Early morning or late afternoon are ideal times of the day, as ducks are more active during these periods.

Final Thoughts on Ducks in Texas

Texas’ varied landscapes, from coastal marshes to inland lakes, provide a haven for ducks. These regions offer unique opportunities for birdwatchers to observe and appreciate the rich diversity of duck species, highlighting the state’s importance in the migratory patterns of these captivating waterfowl.

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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