Living Bird Magazine
Mottled DuckAnas fulvigula
- ORDER: Anseriformes
- FAMILY: Anatidae
Along the Gulf of Mexico coast lives a rich brown duck with a lovely buff head and neck, a bright yellow bill, and a distinctive black spot at the gape. It’s reminiscent of a female Mallard or an American Black Duck, but this is the closely related Mottled Duck. They’re so closely related that hybridization, especially with Mallards, poses a real threat to the Mottled Duck’s future. Look for this species in pairs or small flocks, mostly in freshwater marshes near the coast.More ID Info
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Mottled Ducks are fairly common within their limited range. Almost any freshwater wetland can provide nesting habitat for a pair, including marshes, ponds, ditches, and impoundments. In Florida, hybridization with introduced Mallards has produced many so-called “Muddled Ducks,” and care is needed to confirm identification of a “pure” Mottled Duck.
- Ánade Moteado (Spanish)
- Canard brun (French)
Building a wetland in the backyard might seem like an odd idea, but ponds and wetland gardens can be great yard features (and can even be used to treat household waste). These features also attract many birds, possibly including Mottled Ducks within their range. Habitat Network has more about creating water features in your yard.
- Cool Facts
- Mottled Ducks form pair bonds even earlier than most other ducks—typically by November before the breeding season starts the following spring. In many dabbling duck species, the pair splits up as soon as the female lays eggs, but male Mottled Ducks tend to remain with their mate well into the incubation period and sometimes later.
- Mottled Ducks are closely related to Mallards, Mexican Ducks, and American Black Ducks and sometimes hybridize with them. They’re more closely related to Mexican and American Black Ducks (both species in which the males look like the females, as Mottled Ducks) than they are to Mallards (in which males and females look very different).
- The oldest recorded Mottled Duck was at least 13 years, 7 months old when he was shot in Florida, the same state where he had been banded.