Birds, common British species

Ducks

Duck Bits

Example

The male Mallard has a yellow Bill, green Head, thin white Neck ring, brown Breast and pale Flanks.
Male Mallard Male Mallard

Body parts

These terms are used in identification. To see the named part, just point at it.

Duck Bill
Also known as 'Beak', usually broad for sifting food.
Bill
Duck Bill tip
Some ducks have a small hook on the tip, known as a nail.
Bill tip
Duck Lore
Between the eye and bill, often pale.
Lore
Duck Forehead Forehead Duck Supercilium
Stripe above the eye, often pale.
Supercilium
Duck Eye Stripe
Stripe in line with the eye, often dark.
Eye Stripe
Duck Eye Eye
Duck Head Head Duck Neck
Some species have a neck ring.
The neck can stretch quite long or fold back.
Neck
Duck Breast
Often contrasts with the body.
Breast
Duck Belly Belly Duck Wing Wing Duck Speculum
These often have distinctive colours
Diagnostic but may be hidden when wings are folded.
Speculum
Duck Stern Stern
Duck Tail
Usually small, but some ducks have display feathers.
Tail
Duck Primaries
The main flight feathers.
Primaries
Duck Foot Foot Duck Rump Rump Duck Underwing Underwing Duck Flank Flank

Duck types

Female Tufted Duck Male Tufted Duck.
Small diving duck.
Black with a white flank.
In bright light the head shines with iridescent purple
A tuft hangs down the back of the head.
Female Tufted Duck
Female Tufted Duck Female Tufted Duck.
Small diving duck.
Dark brown with a lighter flank.
The small tuft sometimes shows at the back of the head.
Female Tufted Duck
Female Tufted Duck Female Tufted Duck lifting wings.
A white stripe along the wing shows in flight in both sexes.
Female Tufted Duck lifting wings
Female Tufted Duck Female Tufted Duck.
Has a pale lore in winter.
Female Tufted Duck
Teal female Teal Female.
Small dabbling duck.
Speculum is iridescent green, shines brightly in direct light.
Teal female
Teal female Teal male.
Small dabbling duck.
Dark red and green head, grey body & wing.
Yellow patch on black rump.
White stripe on wing edge.
Teal female

Mallard pair Mallard male behind dozing female.
Large dabbling duck.
Note the curled feathers above the male's tail.
Mallard pair
Wigeon male Male Wigeon.
Medium grazing duck.
Blue bill, white edged black primaries.
Cream forehead on brown head, pink breast.
Grey wing & flank.
Wigeon male
Wigeon female Female Wigeon.
Medium grazing duck.
Blue bill, white edged black primaries.
Reddish brown head, breast & flank.
Wigeon female
Female Goosander Female Goosander.
Large sawbill, a diving duck with a narrow bill for catching fish.
Brown head and grey body.
Female Goosander
Female Goosander Male Goosander.
Large sawbill, a diving duck with a narrow bill for catching fish.
The creamy white body and black wing is striking.
The green head often appears blackish.
In breeding plumage the breast is pink.
Female Goosander
Female Goosander flapping Female Goosander.
Both sexes have a broad white speculum.
Female Goosander flapping

Behaviour helps with identification, is the duck dabbling, diving or grazing?
Ducks tend to pair up in the autumn and spend the winter together.

After the breeding season ducks go into eclipse when they grow new feathers. For a while they all look similar, male female and juvenile. As the feathers start to wear the male's breeding colours are gradually revealed.

Feeding

Ducks eat small invertebrates and fish, as well as vegetation. The bill can act as a filter, sieving out food from water.

Bill shapes vary, depending on the feeding method. Broad for filtering small items of food. Long & thin with a serrated edge for catching fish.

Dabbling duck Dabbling stretching down to feed in shallow water. Dabbling duck Diving duck Diving to feed in deep water. Diving duck Grazing duck Grazing on land. Diving duck

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