13 Ducks with White Heads [Images + IDs]

Ducks with White Heads
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Ducks, with their playful quacks and graceful water glides, are a beloved part of our natural world. Among these waterfowl, some ducks sport a truly charming feature: pure white heads. These feathered friends add a touch of elegance to the serene lakes and ponds. In this blog post, we’re going to embark on a journey to explore the delightful world of ducks with white heads. We’ll discover what makes them so special, where they paddle and preen, and what they love to dine on in their watery habitats.

List of 13 Ducks with White Heads

Paradise Shelduck:

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  • Scientific name: Tadorna variegata
  • Lifespan: Typically 15-20 years
  • Size: Approximately 24-30 inches
  • Origin: Native to New Zealand

The Paradise Shelduck is a remarkable waterfowl species native to New Zealand. These shelducks are renowned for their striking sexual dimorphism, with males and females displaying markedly different plumage. Males typically exhibit bold and eye-catching black and white plumage, while females have a more subdued and mottled appearance.

Paradise Shelducks are often found in wetland habitats, including lakes, rivers, and estuaries. They are known for their distinctive and melodious calls, which are used for communication and mate attraction. Their diet primarily consists of aquatic vegetation, small invertebrates, and insects. These shelducks play a vital role in New Zealand’s ecosystem and are considered a treasured symbol of the country’s natural heritage.

Radjah Shelduck:

  • Scientific name: Tadorna radjah
  • Lifespan: Typically 15-20 years
  • Size: Typically 24-28 inches
  • Origin: Native to northern Australia, New Guinea, and nearby islands

The Radjah Shelduck is a distinctive waterfowl species native to northern Australia, Indonesia, and New Guinea. These shelducks are recognized for their striking appearance, featuring predominantly dark plumage with bold white markings on their face and neck, and strikingly contrasting bright red bills.

Radjah Shelducks are typically found in various wetland habitats, including swamps, lagoons, and coastal estuaries. They are known for their shrill and distinctive calls that echo across their wetland homes. Their diet primarily consists of aquatic plants, insects, and small crustaceans. They are considered an important and iconic species in their native regions, often associated with wetland conservation efforts.

White-headed Duck:

  • Scientific name: Oxyura leucocephala
  • Lifespan: Typically 5-10 years
  • Size: Approximately 15-16 inches
  • Origin: Native to parts of Europe and Asia

The White-headed Duck is an elegant waterfowl species that primarily inhabits parts of Europe, North Africa, and western Asia. This duck species is aptly named for the striking white plumage on its head, which contrasts with its darker body.

White-headed Ducks are typically found in freshwater habitats, including lakes, ponds, and marshes. They are known for their distinctive courtship displays, which involve synchronized movements and vocalizations. Their diet mainly consists of aquatic plants, algae, and small aquatic creatures.

Conservation efforts are in place to protect the White-headed Duck’s populations, as they face habitat loss and threats from human activities in some regions.

Long-tailed Duck

  • Scientific name: Clangula hyemalis
  • Lifespan: Typically 6-10 years
  • Size: Typically 16-24 inches
  • Origin: Northern regions of North America and Eurasia

The Long-tailed Duck, a small diving duck, gets its name from its prominent slender and long black tail feathers. Adult non-breeding males have predominantly white crowns, foreheads, necks, backs, sides, and bellies. They also exhibit a gray mask, dark cheek patch, pink band across their black bill, and black breasts and wings with white shoulder blades. Their long tails are black. During the breeding season or in summer, their coloring reverses, with all white areas becoming dark-colored.

Adult non-breeding females feature dark crowns, white heads with a dark cheek patch, and gray bills. Their necks and bellies are white. Like males, their coloring also reverses during the breeding season.

Long-tailed Ducks breed in the far north regions of Canada, Alaska, northern Europe, and northern Asia. In winter, they migrate to the US, with some populations in Europe and Asia following a similar southward movement.

These ducks can be found in various coastal water habitats, including bays, harbors, fjords, estuaries, straits, and mudflats. During the breeding season, they are often along ocean coasts and large freshwater lakes. In areas with extensive sea ice, they tend to join large flocks.

White-faced Whistling Duck:

  • Scientific name: Dendrocygna viduata
  • Lifespan: Typically 8-15 years
  • Size: Generally 16-19 inches
  • Origin: Found in various regions of Africa and South America

The White-faced Whistling Duck is a captivating waterfowl species native to sub-Saharan Africa and parts of South America. These ducks are recognized for their unique appearance, characterized by white faces and striking white wing patches.

White-faced Whistling Ducks primarily inhabit wetland environments, including freshwater lakes, ponds, and rivers. They are named for their distinctive whistling calls, which are audible during flight or while they forage in groups. Their diet consists of aquatic vegetation, insects, and small invertebrates.

These ducks are highly social birds, often seen in large flocks, and their striking plumage and vocalizations add to the charm of the wetlands they inhabit.

Steller’s Eider:

  • Scientific name: Polysticta stelleri
  • Lifespan: Information not readily available
  • Size: Approximately 16-20 inches
  • Origin: Native to northern coastal regions of North America and Eurasia

Steller’s Eider is a striking sea duck that inhabits parts of the Arctic and subarctic regions, particularly in North America and eastern Russia. They are named in honor of the naturalist Georg Wilhelm Steller, known for his exploration of the Russian Far East.

These eiders are known for their sexual dimorphism, with males displaying vibrant breeding plumage featuring bold black and white patterns and strikingly colorful bills, while females are more cryptically colored. Steller’s Eiders are often found in marine environments, including coastal areas and offshore waters. Their diet consists mainly of marine invertebrates and crustaceans.

Conservation efforts are in place to protect Steller’s Eiders, as they face threats from habitat degradation and climate change in some regions.

Cotton Teal:

  • Scientific name: Nettapus coromandelianus
  • Lifespan: Typically 10-15 years
  • Size: Approximately 10-12 inches
  • Origin: Native to various parts of Asia and Oceania

The Cotton Teal is a charming duck species native to various parts of South and Southeast Asia, including India, Thailand, and Indonesia. These teals are recognized for their petite size, distinctive white facial markings, and chestnut-colored plumage.

Cotton Teals are often found in freshwater habitats, including ponds, lakes, and slow-moving rivers. They are known for their distinctive vocalizations, often described as “cotton-like” sounds. Their diet primarily consists of aquatic vegetation, small invertebrates, and insects.

These ducks are a delightful addition to the wetland ecosystems they inhabit and are known for their tranquil presence along the water’s edge.

Ancona Duck:

  • Scientific name: Anas platyrhynchos domesticus
  • Lifespan: Typically 5-10 years
  • Size: Approximately 20-25 inches
  • Origin: Domesticated breed

The Ancona Duck is a domesticated duck breed known for its attractive and variable plumage patterns. These ducks are not found in the wild but have been selectively bred for their striking appearances.

Ancona Ducks are characterized by their mottled plumage, which can come in various colors, including black, blue, chocolate, or silver. They are typically raised on farms for their meat, eggs, and ornamental value. These ducks are known for their docile temperament and adaptability to different climates.

Ancona Ducks are a popular choice among backyard poultry keepers and small-scale farmers, adding a touch of color and charm to domestic duck populations.


  • Scientific name: Bucephala albeola
  • Lifespan: Typically 5-10 years
  • Size: Typically 13-16 inches
  • Origin: North America

Buffleheads are small birds known for their unique appearance. They earned their name, “bullheaded,” from ancient Greek, which refers to their bulbous heads. Male Buffleheads are easily distinguishable by the large white patch on their heads, positioned behind their eyes. This patch accentuates the glossy green and purple colors on their crown, forehead, throat, and neck. Their lower bodies are white, while the upper half is black.

Female Buffleheads look quite different from males, except for their bulbous head. They have dark brown or black heads with a small white patch below the eye. The lower half of their bodies is gray, and the upper half is black. Juvenile Buffleheads resemble females with their brown heads and a white patch on the head.

Buffleheads primarily breed in Canada before migrating to regions such as the US, northern Mexico, and Canada’s Pacific coast. They can be spotted during migration in the Midwest and the Appalachian region.

During the breeding season, Buffleheads can be found in small lakes and ponds near poplar and aspen forests. In winter, they move to protected coastal waters, shallow bays, and inlets. Their foraging style mainly involves diving as they search for food like mollusks, crustaceans, and aquatic insects, which they consume underwater.

Hooded Merganser

  • Scientific name: Lophodytes cucullatus
  • Lifespan: Typically 5-12 years
  • Size: Typically 15-19 inches
  • Origin: North America

Male Hooded Mergansers are remarkable ducks due to their ability to raise or lower the crests on their heads, altering the shape and pattern of these crests. When opened, the crests appear as large white patches, but when closed, they form a thick white line. Their heads are black, complemented by striking golden yellow eyes. The rest of their bodies are predominantly black, except for cinnamon-colored flanks and white chests. Two black bars mark their chests, and white stripes adorn their lower backs. Female Hooded Mergansers share the distinctive crests, but theirs are reddish-brown.

These ducks reside in eastern US states throughout the year, but those in eastern Canada migrate during the winter. Some also spend the entire year in southwestern Canada. During migration, they can be spotted in the Midwest, while in winter, they frequent southern US states and the West Coast.

Hooded Mergansers can be found in freshwater lakes, ponds, and slow-moving rivers. They prefer breeding in small, forested ponds and estuaries with abundant aquatic vegetation. During migration, they explore various habitats, including open water, coastal bays, and tidal creeks. In winter, they inhabit brackish swamps, saltwater bays, and inlets.

Common Eider

  • Scientific name: Somateria mollissima
  • Lifespan: Typically 15-20 years
  • Size: Typically 20-28 inches
  • Origin: Northern coastal regions of North America, Europe, and Asia

Common Eiders are large sea ducks characterized by their sloping foreheads. Breeding males typically display distinctive white cheeks and backs, contrasting with black caps, sides, and bellies. They also sport pistachio-colored napes at the back of their necks.

Female Common Eiders, on the other hand, are uniformly reddish-brown throughout their bodies, featuring black barring on their breasts, backs, and wings. In contrast, juveniles and non-breeding males are chocolate brown with varying degrees of white markings on their breasts and backs.

These birds primarily breed in regions such as Canada, Alaska, parts of northern Europe, and Asia. While some individuals remain in these areas year-round, others embark on migrations to the south during the winter.

Common Eiders can be found in marine or saltwater environments, particularly those in proximity to rocky coastlines. During the breeding season, they form large colonies on coastal islands, islets, and shorelines adorned with vegetation, shrubs, and stunted trees. In winter, they prefer areas with rocky seafloors, which facilitate their foraging for mollusks.

Muscovy Duck – Domestic

  • Scientific name: Cairina moschata domesticus
  • Lifespan: Typically 8-12 years
  • Size: Approximately 26-33 inches
  • Origin: Domesticated breed

Muscovy Ducks come in both wild and domesticated varieties. Wild Muscovy Ducks are characterized by their glossy, dark-colored plumage, with less prominent white wing patches. Males possess short crests on the napes of their necks.

Domesticated Muscovy Ducks, in contrast, may exhibit a wide range of color combinations, including dark brown, white, and black. Both wild and domesticated Muscovy Ducks share distinctive red, wart-like spots on their faces.

While wild Muscovy Ducks are native to regions like Mexico, Central America, and South America, domesticated Muscovy Ducks have escaped into the wild and can be found in various areas.

Wild Muscovy Ducks typically inhabit forested areas with access to water sources. In contrast, domesticated Muscovy Ducks are commonly found on farms and in parks.

Harlequin Duck:

  • Scientific name: Histrionicus histrionicus
  • Lifespan: Typically 10-15 years
  • Size: Typically 16-20 inches
  • Origin: Northern coastal regions of North America, Europe, and Asia

The Harlequin Duck is a colorful and distinctive sea duck found primarily in North America and eastern Siberia. These ducks are aptly named for their striking and elaborate plumage, which resembles a harlequin’s costume with its combination of blues, whites, and chestnut markings.

Harlequin Ducks are typically found in fast-flowing rivers and rocky coastal areas. They are known for their strong swimming abilities and their adeptness at navigating turbulent waters. Their diet primarily consists of aquatic invertebrates and small fish.

These ducks are known for their unique and eye-catching appearance, making them a favorite among birdwatchers and wildlife enthusiasts along North America’s rugged coastlines and riverbanks.

Final Thoughts on Ducks with White Heads

As we bring our journey through the avian world to a close, we’ve celebrated the pristine elegance of ducks with white heads. These charming waterfowl, with their distinctive appearance, remind us of the simple yet captivating beauty found in nature.

Throughout our exploration, we’ve learned about their unique characteristics, habitats, and dietary preferences, gaining a deeper appreciation for their place in our ecosystems. These ducks are a testament to the serene and diverse tapestry of life that graces our wetlands and waterways.

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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