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Idaho is a beautiful state with many natural resources and excellent spots where ducks can live without being disturbed. Wildlife in Idaho is quite diverse, and you can encounter both dabbling and diving ducks.
We’ve put together this list of 21 breeds of ducks in Idaho, and we will mention both duck types. Keep reading below to learn more about them!
|Scientific name||Mareca americana|
The American Wigeon is a medium-sized duck species you can encounter in Idaho. They commonly sit on the water and have their heads pulled down, so it appears as if they have no neck. Breeding males have a green stripe behind their eyes and a white line on their heads. Their bodies are cinnamon-colored, with black feathers underneath.
Non-breeding males and females are gray-brownish and have a dark patch around their eyes. You can find them near lakesides, rivers, and other areas with water. These ducks commonly feed on plants, both terrestrial and aquatic.
|Scientific name||Anas acuta|
|Diet||Seeds, aquatic plants, worms, insects, grains|
The Northern Pintail is a larger duck breed you can find in Idaho. These ducks look elegant and sophisticated due to their long necks and slender profile. They have long, pointy tails that are the longest in breeding males. Breeding males also stand out due to their white breasts and a white line on their neck and head.
Northern Pintails commonly feeds on insects, aquatic plants, and seeds. You can encounter this species near wetlands such as lakes, ponds, and bays, although you can also see them in grasslands and shortgrass prairies.
|Scientific name||Mareca strepera|
The Gadwall is a medium-sized duck breed you can find near wetlands and grasslands in Idaho. The male representatives of this species have gray/brown/black patterns, while the females resemble Mallards. These quirky ducks feed on aquatic plants, and they frequently steal food from other duck species.
Although gadwalls are dabbling ducks, they can still dive underwater to find food. Gadwall ducks are monogamous, so they only have one partner, and they start breeding after the first year of their life.
|Scientific name||Anas platyrhynchos|
The Mallard is a large duck species with a long body, rounded head, and a flat bill. Males are distinctive due to their bright-yellow bill and green head, while females and young ones are brown with orange bills. Also, both males and females have a blue patch on their wings that makes them stand out.
These ducks feed in the water and tip forward to reach aquatic plants. They live in any kind of wetland, and you can see them on rivers, lakes, and other coastal habitats.
|Scientific name||Spatula discors|
The Blue-winged Teal is another bird common to Idaho. These ducks inhabit wetlands and ponds across North America. They are migratory birds, and many ducks in this species go to South America to spend the winter there. Breeding males have brown bodies, salty-blue heads, and a white line behind the bill. Females and non-breeding males have brown patterns. These birds reveal a blue patch on their upper wing section when flying.
|Scientific name||Spatula clypeata|
|Diet||Aquatic invertebrates, crustaceans, seeds|
The Northern Shoveler is a unique duck breed that’s distinctive due to its large spoon-like bill. Breeding males are white on the chest, green throughout the head, rusty on the sides, and have blue underwing sections. Immature ducks and females are brownish, with a powdery blue on their underwings. These ducks frequently have their heads in shallow wetland areas looking for food. You can find them near coastal marshes, rice fields, flooded fields, and grassy areas.
|Scientific name||Aix sponsa|
|Diet||Plant matter, seeds, nuts|
The Wood Duck is truly a fascinating species whose appearance will amaze you. Males have a green head with white stripes and chestnut chests. Females are grayish-brown with speckled, white chests. Unlike other dabbling ducks, this species nests in trees.
These ducks are commonly in groups, and you can find them in marshes, wooded swamps, small lakes, and beaver ponds. Wood ducks typically eat plant matter, seeds, and nuts, although they can also consume land and aquatic invertebrates.
|Scientific name||Spatula cyanoptera|
|Diet||Aquatic plants, seeds, insects|
The Cinnamon Teal is a small duck with rusty, vivid plumage in breeding males and a rich-brown, linear pattern in females. All adults of this species have a baby-blue patch when they open their wings, similar to shovelers and other teal species. Their usual habitats are freshwater areas with lots of vegetation.
These ducks are very common in western areas of North America and South America. The Cinnamon Teal diet consists of aquatic plants, seeds, and insects.
|Scientific name||Anas carolinensis|
|Diet||Seeds, aquatic insects, sedges|
The Green-winged Teal is a pretty, small duck species with a short body and large head. Grown-up males have grayish bodies, cinnamon heads, and a green patch around their eyes. Female ducks are brown and have a yellow streak along their tail. These ducks feed on aquatic insects, seeds, and sedges, and they tip in shallow water to reach their prey. You can find them in flooded fields and shallow ponds.
|Scientific name||Anas rubripes|
|Diet||Aquatic plants, invertebrates, small fish|
The American Black Duck is known for its deep brown/black plumage and green-yellow bill. The females are a bit paler than the males, although both males and females have a blue pattern on their wings. These ducks tip instead of diving, and they catch small fish and aquatic plants underwater.
American Black Ducks usually nest in salt marshes and freshwater. They often flock with other duck species, so you might see them around Mallards and Gadwalls.
|Scientific name||Mergus serrator|
The Red-breasted Merganser is a large, long-bodied duck with a long, thin bill. Breeding males have red chests and white necks, while non-breeding males and females are brownish-gray. They all have shaggy heads that make them easily recognizable. These ducks dive underwater to catch small fish, and they do this frequently since they eat over 15 fish daily. These ducks choose wetlands near forests or coasts as their habitat.
|Scientific name||Bucephala albeola|
The Bufflehead is another diving duck species common to Idaho. These ducks are quite small, and they have interesting color patterns. Breeding males have a white belly, black back, and a white-black head with greenish hues around their eyes. Females are brown-gray with white cheeks. These ducks dive underwater to catch aquatic invertebrates.
They commonly live in shallow bays, and they nest in tree cavities. Unlike other ducks, these ducks are mostly monogamous.
|Scientific name||Oxyura jamaicensis|
The Ruddy Duck is a small duck breed with a long scoop-shaped baby-blue bill. Males have white cheeks and a brown/black body. First-year males and females are brownish and have a stripe along with their cheek patches. When flying, you can notice the dark tops on their wings. Like many other diving ducks these also feed on Aquatic invertebrates. They are active during the night and sleep through the day, and their typical nesting spots are lakes and ponds.
|Scientific name||Aythya valisineria|
|Diet||Plant tubers, seeds, clams|
The Canvasback is one of the larger duck species with a big head and long bill. Their heads are brown, followed by a black belly and white back. Females are light-brown, and have brown eyes, while males have red eyes. These ducks dive deep underwater to get plant tubers, seeds, and clamps as their snack.
Their habitats are lakes, marshes, ponds, and bays. In the non-breeding season, you can notice them in large flocks mixing with other ducks.
|Scientific name||Melanitta americana|
The Black Scoter, also known as the American Scoter, is a medium-sized bird with a round head and short tail. Their plumage is silky black, and their beak is half orange and half black. The females and young ones are brown with pale cheeks. They dive into shallow water to catch shellfish, which is their primary food source.
You can see them in large flocks, mostly on lakes and large rivers and when swimming, these ducks like to show off and flap their wings!
|Scientific name||Aythya collaris|
|Diet||Aquatic vegetation, invertebrates, mollusks|
The Ring-necked Duck got its name due to its interesting-shaped head. They have long necks and short bodies. Males are black/gray with a white pattern on their bill and females are brown with pale cheeks, and they also have a white pattern on the bill. They are commonly found in pairs or small flocks, and they feed on aquatic vegetation, invertebrates, and mollusks. They are found in small lakes, marshes, ponds, and acidic wetlands.
|Scientific name||Aythya fuligula|
|Diet||Aquatic seeds, plants, insects|
The Tufted Duck is a petite duck species with a black head and white back. They are distinctive due to the floppy crest on their heads. Females are chocolate-brown with golden eyes and a white patch on the bill. They feed by diving, and they look for aquatic seeds, plants, and insects. The Tufted Duck usually sleeps throughout the day, and you can encounter them in large flocks. Their nesting spots are wetlands and freshwater.
|Scientific name||Aythya americana|
|Diet||Aquatic plants, seeds, leaves|
The Redhead is a medium-sized duck with a rounded head and a baby-blue bill. They have cinnamon heads and a grey body while immatures and females are typically pale brown. These ducks are usually in flocks with other ducks such as Canvasbacks, Wigeons, and Scaups.
They dive to get aquatic plants, seeds and leaves since that’s their main food source and they are commonly found in wetlands and lakes. The oldest representative of this species was 20 years old.
|Scientific name||Bucephala clangula|
|Diet||Crabs, shrimps, mollusks|
The Common Goldeneye is a medium-sized duck with a large head and a narrow bill. Grown males are black with a white chest and a greenish head while females have brown heads and grey wings and backs. These diving ducks live in flocks and dive simultaneously. Males like to display when the females are near, stretching back to show off. These ducks nest in tree cavities and spend their time in coastal waters, lakes, and rivers. They usually eat crabs, shrimps, and mollusks.
|Scientific name||Mergus merganser|
|Diet||Fish, aquatic invertebrates|
The Common Merganser is a large duck with a long body and straight-narrow bill. Female representatives of the species have shaggy crests on their heads. Males have white bodies and dark-green heads, while females and young ones have gray bodies and rusty-colored heads. From summer to autumn, the plumage of the males looks very similar to the female plumage. During winter and migration, they mix with other breeds and create large flocks.
Their habitats are rivers, lakes, ponds, and other freshwater areas. They feed on fish and aquatic invertebrates.
|Scientific name||Bucephala islandica|
The Barrow’s Goldeneye has an oddly-shaped head and a small bill. Grown-up males have white chests and black/white wings. Their eyes are bright yellow, and the females are grey with a yellow bill. They rest and swim on the water and dive for long periods to catch their prey. While swimming, you can hear them calling the males and you can encounter them in lakes, ponds, and forests. They commonly nest in other duck’s nests, and their ducklings are quite independent from a young age.
Related Read: 20 Types of Duck in Colorado (With Pictures)
As you can see, the duck population in Idaho is quite diverse, and there are lots of unique species that live there. Our guide should help you to easily recognize each duck species, and to know more about their habits and life patterns. If you live in Idaho, you will likely encounter at least one of these breeds.
Featured Image Credit: jimsimons, Pixabay
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Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.
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