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American Black Duck

Anas rubripes ORDER: ANSERIFORMES FAMILY: ANATIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

The American Black Duck hides in plain sight in shallow wetlands of eastern North America. They often flock with the ubiquitous Mallard, where they look quite similar to female Mallards. But take a second look through a group of brown ducks to notice the dark chocolate-brown flanks, pale grayish face, and olive-yellow bill of an American Black Duck. Numbers of this shy but common duck declined sharply in the mid-twentieth century. Hunting restrictions have helped to stabilize their numbers, although habitat loss remains a problem.

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Calls

American Black Duck females give loud quacks, along with a six-syllable call that falls in pitch, with an accent on the second syllable. Males have raspy, reedy calls and they give a flutelike whistle during courtship.

Other Sounds

The male makes a rattling sound by moving the tip of his bill along the underside of his wing during a courtship display.

Search the Macaulay Library online archive for more sounds and videos

Find This Bird

Look for American Black Ducks in both fresh and saltwater in eastern North America, where they will look like female Mallards except with an olive-yellow bill and overall darker, higher-contrast plumage. They prefer protected bodies of water such as saltmarshes and ponds, and frequently mix with other species of ducks, especially Mallards. Among flocks of Mallards, look for a darker, colder-toned duck of similar size; in flight, the white underwings of American Black Ducks form a brighter, more contrasting flash than on a flying Mallard. Because these two species frequently hybridize in eastern North America, be aware that you may see individuals with intermediate characters, such as a dark body and a partially green head.