Living Bird Magazine
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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
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.
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. Find out more about creating water features in your yard.