Living Bird Magazine
American Black DuckAnas rubripes
- ORDER: Anseriformes
- FAMILY: Anatidae
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.More ID Info
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.
- Ánade Sombrío (Spanish)
- Canard noir (French)
- Cool Facts
- As soon as their down feathers dry, newly hatched ducklings are able to leave the nest, a depression on the ground lined with plant materials. They follow their mother to rearing areas with a lot of invertebrates to eat and plenty of vegetation for cover.
- Normally found in eastern North America, American Black Ducks occasionally show up on the West Coast, Europe, and even Asia. Some of these birds may be escaped pets, but others are known to be wild ducks: for instance, one female banded in New Brunswick, Canada, turned up later in France.
- Pleistocene fossils of American Black Ducks, at least 11,000 years old, have been unearthed in Florida and Georgia.
- The oldest American Black Duck on record was 26 years, 5 months old.