You would expect to see a decent number of waterfowl in an area full of large lakes, swamps, marshes, and rivers like Louisiana. After all, the state seems like an ideal habitat for ducks considering all of the water it has to offer. Louisiana is a common stop for ducks migrating south after the breeding season.
Below we will go over the 24 breeds of duck you can find in the Bayou State. First, we’ll look at the nine dabbling ducks found in Louisiana. Then we’ll show you the 13 diving ducks and two whistling ducks. Let’s get started!
The 9 Dabbling Ducks Found in Louisiana
Dabbling ducks are a group of shallow-water ducks made up of several different species. They stick to the surface of the water and feed by dabbling along the surface of the water as opposed to diving.
1. American Wigeon
American Wigeons are small, shy ducks with round heads and short blueish gray bills that have black tips. Males are mostly brown with a white crown and a green band behind the eyes. Females are all brown and have gray heads. They tend to keep a distance from humans and frequent quiet rural areas near lakes or marshes.
The American Wigeon consumes a lot more vegetation than other species of ducks, and their short bills are perfectly equipped for their diet. They spend the breeding season in the mid to western half of Canada up into Alaska and will migrate south during the non-breeding season, which is when you will find them in Louisiana.
2. Blue-Winged Teal
The Blue-Winged Teal duck migrates over very long distances. Smaller groups or pairs of these tiny little dabbling ducks are common near shallow ponds and wetlands across much of North America. Some Blue-Winged Teals fly as far as South America to spend their winters. They can be found in the coastal region of Louisiana all year round but are found throughout the state during the non-breeding season.
Male Blue-Winged Teals have brown bodies with dark speckling on their breast and a slate blue head with a white crescent behind the bill. Females of this species are a patterned brown color but do have
coloration that varies from blue to green that can be seen under the wings during flight.
3. Eurasian Wigeon
The Eurasian Wigeon is rare to North America but does visit occasionally during the non-breeding season in certain areas. You are not likely to come across one in Louisiana like you will most other species, but they have been observed in the state alongside their relatives, the American Wigeon.
It is guessed that the Eurasian Wigeons that are seen each year in North America have come from Iceland. Males have gray bodies with a bright brown head that has a ruffled appearance. The females are varying shades of brown all over.
Gadwalls are commonly found near quiet ponds and marshes that have lots of aquatic vegetation. These ducks are known for stealing food from others and will nest on the ground. They are observed in Louisiana during the nonbreeding season but can be seen year-round in parts of the western United States.
Males are patterned with gray, brown, and black and have brown heads with dark bills. Females very closely resemble mallards with their mottled brown color but have thinner, darker bills that range from a dark orange coloration to black.
5. Green-Winged Teal
The Green-Winged Teal is the smallest dabbling duck in North America. They are found in the state of Louisiana during the nonbreeding season and are commonly seen alongside other species. Green-Winged Teals are the second-most-hunted duck in the country. Flocks in the wintertime has been said to reach up to 50,000 ducks. This species sticks to the marshes and feasts on seeds.
Males have chestnut-brown heads with a vivid green patch on their ears. The bodies are gray with vertical white stripes on the sides. Females are mottled brown in coloration with dark-lined eyes. Both males and females will have a green patch on the wings that are only seen during flight.
Mallards are found year-round through most of the United States but in Louisiana, they are typically seen during the non-breeding winter months. Mallards are an adaptable species of duck that can be found in a variety of wetland habitats. They tend to be more comfortable around humans than some other species and they are common to come across.
Males have a yellow bill, dark reddish-brown chest with a black rump with a white-tipped tail. They are very recognizable for their bright green heads with white collars. Females are mottled brown all over their bodies with brown or orange bills. Both sexes have bluish-purple feathering underneath the wing that is only seen while they are in flight.
7. Northern Pintail
Large groups of Northern Pintails will congregate together in the wetlands, lakes, bays, and even waddle sometimes agricultural fields during the winter, which is when you will find them in the state of Louisiana. They do tend to forage on land more than other dabbling species. They are commonly seen in the shallows near the edges of ponds and lakes, this species tends to keep a distance from people.
Northern Pintails are recognized by their pointy tail and large, wide bills. They are fairly slender ducks with long necks and long tails. A male Northern Pintail will be cinnamon-brown on the head with gray bodies with white breasts and necks. Females have tan heads and duller brown plumage.
8. Northern Shoveler
Northern Shovelers are omnivorous ducks that are found in Louisiana during the nonbreeding season. These ducks nest on the ground and tend to gravitate toward marshes and shallow wetlands. They have large, spoon-shaped bills made for shoveling through mud and sand in search of food.
The males have yellow eyes, green heads, white chests, black backs, and reddish-brown bodies. The female Northern Shovelers are mottled brown with an occasional blue patch on their shoulders.
9. Wood Duck
You will find Wood Ducks in Louisiana all-year-round nesting in tree cavities in wooded swamps or near lakes and ponds. They are one of the few species of duck that have claws that are appropriate for perching on branches.
Males have a very distinct look with red eyes, iridescent chestnut and green on their heads and backs, and rusty-colored chests that are speckled with white. Females are duller in color with a grayish-brown coloration and white speckled breast area. Females also have white surrounding their dark eyes.
The 13 Diving Ducks Found in Louisiana
Diving ducks, sometimes referred to as sea ducks, are a category of duck that feeds by diving beneath the surface of the water. This is a very diverse group of species and some can hold their breaths for over a minute and even dive several feet below the surface.
10. Black Scoter
The beautiful Black Scoter is only found along the coast of the United States, including Louisiana. They are a vocal species that forage aquatic vertebrae. They stick to the marshes in search of insects in summer and tend to dive for mussels in winter, which is when they will be found in Louisiana.
Males are a velvety black coloration with black bills that have a distinct bright orange knob at the base. The female Black Scoter is mostly brown with a unique facial pattern and a black cap that contrasts with their pale cheeks.
Buffleheads are small diving ducks that sport large heads. Males have dark backs with white chests. Their heads look black and white from a distance but close up show an iridescent, glossy purple to green plumage. Females are mostly brown with a dark head and a white patch on the cheek.
You can find Buffleheads across the entire state of Louisiana during the winter months. They are commonly seen on ponds and lakes feeding on aquatic invertebrates by abruptly diving and resurfacing. They like to nest in cavities of trees and tend to gravitate toward Woodpecker holes.
The Canvasbacks are large diving ducks that are known for diving up to 7 feet to feed on plant life at the bottom of lakes and wetlands. These ducks with black breasts and tails and a pale gray body. Males have very distinct red eyes and reddish-brown heads with black breasts and tails and a gray body. The females are dull in color with black eyes and brown heads.
The Canvasback can be found in Louisiana during the non-breeding season floating on lakes and ponds. They have been known to winter by the thousands on freshwater lakes and other coastal waters.
13. Common Goldeneye
Common Goldeneyes spend their breeding season in Canada and up into most of Alaska. This species is known for diving up to one minute in search of food. You will find this species in Louisiana during their non-breeding months when the weather gets colder.
The males have a dark green head with vibrant, bright yellow eyes, and a white patch on the cheek. Their body is mostly white with a black back and rump. Female Common Goldeneyes have pale yellow eyes with brown heads and a shorter dark bill with a yellow tip at the end. These surface divers frequent lakes and ponds feasting on aquatic invertebrates.
14. Greater Scaup
The Greater Scaup is a medium-sized diving duck that spends the breeding season in Alaska and Canada. They make their way south into the states as the weather begins to get colder. They are not a very common sign in Louisiana but may be observed during their migration season in the eastern part of the state.
During migration and the winter months, this species can form large flocks on bays, lakes, and throughout large wetlands areas. They are sometimes observed gathering with other types of diving ducks. Males have yellow eyes, a green head, with dark chests while the females have a brown body with a more chocolate-colored head. Both have had large blue-gray bills with pointy black tips
15. Hooded Merganser
The small, diving duck known as the Hooded Merganser is widespread across North America and is typically seen in pairs or smaller flocks. The males have a large black crest with a white patch on each side, they are cinnamon-colored on each side with vibrant yellow eyes. Females also have a crest but are brown overall with dark eyes
These avid divers can be found in fresh water and feed on small fish, crayfish, and other crustaceans or aquatic insects. They can be found year-round in Louisiana.
16. Lesser Scaup
Lesser Scaups are a species that is abundant in the United States but are found in Louisiana during the non-breeding season, as they tend to spend this season in the Southern United States and down in Mexico and Central America. This species tends to stay in tight-knit groups but are also one of the few that can also be found in massive flocks. They frequent Louisiana’s on large lakes, reservoirs, and estuaries during migration and winter, sometimes by the thousands
17. Red-Breasted Merganser
Red-Breasted Mergansers have slim, long bodies, very thin bills, and shaggy-looking heads. Males have a dark green head and spiked crest while the females are a brownish-gray color all over. The Red-Breasted Merganser is a surface diver that feeds primarily on fish and will most commonly be found in lakes and ponds.
These ducks are found in Louisiana during their migration and are not a species that is popular for hunting. They spend the breeding season in Northern Canada and Alaska. In Louisiana, they are more a rare sight but can be more common in certain areas that give them their prime habitat.
18. Redhead Duck
The Redhead Duck is observed in Louisiana during the winter months. They are social ducks that tend to gather in very large flocks and frequent larger lakes and marshes. Their sociability does not work well for them during the hunting season, as they are very responsive to hunter’s decoys.
Males present a distinct red head and yellow eyes with a gray body and black chest. Females are brown with pale faces and dark eyes. The Redheads are one of the only species gathered in enormous flocks that reach numbers up in the thousands.
19. Ring-Necked Duck
Ring-Necked Ducks are also referred to as blackjacks or ring bills. They are medium-sized ducks with peaked heads. Both males and females have gray bills with a white band with a black tip. Males have glossy blackheads and chests with gray sides and yellow eyes, while the females are brown with gray faces and darker eyes.
These diving ducks will spend their winters in Louisiana’s wetlands. The largest numbers are observed mostly in the freshwater coastal wetlands.
20. Ruddy Duck
The Ruddy Duck has a very distinct look. The males have a bright blue bill with white cheeks and a black cap. Females are soft brown with a dark cap. They are thick-necked ducks that’s tail feathers stand high in the air. They got the name “ruddy” from the rusty-colored plumage the breeding males present.
Ruddy Ducks are great swimmers and tend to dive to escape predators as opposed to flying. Ruddy ducks breed in the central and western United States and up into Canada. The Ruddy duck is a rare sight in Louisiana but spends some time in the state during the non-breeding season.
21. Surf Scoter
Sometimes referred to as “Old Skunkhead”, the Surf Scoter is known for the black and white patches on the male’s heads. They also have a sloped orange bill. Females are chocolate brown in color with dark bills.
They will stick near to shores of the Louisiana coast, floating on the water. They breed in northern Canada and Alaska. Surf Scoters are called “molt migrants,” meaning after they nest, adults will fly to a safe area where they can molt their feathers. They become flightless very briefly after the molt but then continue on their way.
22. White-Winged Scoter
The largest of the Scoter species, the White-Winged Scoter is heavy and large with a sloped bill and patches of white on their wings. Males are velvety black with a comma of white around the eye and an orange tip on the bill. Females are a rich-chocolate color with distinct white patches on the face.
In winter they can be seen along the Louisiana coast. These ducks eat mussels and can hold their breath for up to one minute or more while driving. They tend to breed around lakes up north into Canada and Alaska where their diet is made up of mainly crustaceans and insects.
The 2 Whistling Ducks Found in Louisiana
Whistling ducks are a distinctive group of about eight species of duck that are leggy and differently proportioned than other duck species. They used to be known as tree ducks but one species perches and nests in trees.
23. Black-Belllied Whistling Duck
The Black-Bellied Whistling-Duck is long-legged with pink bills. In places like Louisiana and Texas, they tend to show up in noisy flocks that drop by into the agricultural fields to forage for seeds. They are also sometimes observed near ponds. This species sticks to a few southern states in the US before heading north.
24. Fulvous Whistling-Duck
The Fulvous Whistling-Duck is caramel-brown and black with long legs and a long neck. These ducks are found in warmer freshwater marshes across both the Americas, Africa, and Asia. In the United States, they stick close to rice fields for foraging. A more rare sight in Louisiana, they are only seen in the southwest corner of the state during the breeding season.
Louisiana has a wide variety of duck species that come into the state during the nonbreeding season. Few species can be observed all year round in the state, but that is typical of North American duck species migrating habits. The state does winged visitors that frequent the coastal United States that are not observed in the land-locked states.
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Featured Image Credit: Glenn Price, Shutterstock