Last Updated on January 16, 2023 by Lily Aldrin
From the majestic Wood Duck to the playful Mallard, Wisconsin is home to a diverse array of duck species.
But do you know which ones call the Badger State their permanent residence, and which are just passing through during migration?
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the different types of ducks found in Wisconsin, including their unique characteristics, habitats, and behaviors.
So, grab your binoculars, and let’s explore the feathered wonders of the Midwest.
Table of Contents
- Types of Ducks in Wisconsin
- 1. Mallard
- 2. Gadwall
- 3. Blue-Winged Teal
- 4. Wood Duck
- 5. American Widgeon
- 6. Green-Winged Teal
- 7. Northern Pintail
- 8. Northern Shoveler
- 9. Common Goldeneye
- 10. Bufflehead
- 11. Ring-Necked Duck
- 12. Hooded Merganser
- 13. Redhead
- 14. Canvasback
- 15. Lesser Scaup
- 16. Khaki Campbell
- 17. Pekins
- 18. Muscovy
- 19. Appleyard
- 20. Cayuga
- 21. Rouen
- 22. Welsh Harlequin
- 23. Indian Runner
- 24. Call Duck
- 25. Saxony
- 26. Buff Orpington
Types of Ducks in Wisconsin
The Mallard is the wild duck species that are most likely to be recognized by people.
Mallards are huge ducks that belong to the “dabbling duck” family.
This means they eat by tilting into the water to capture their prey.
They may be seen in practically any sort of body of water, from rural lakes to ponds in metropolitan parks.
Males may be distinguished from females by their greenish heads, grey bodies, and black tails with a curled appearance.
The females have a simple brown pattern that is shared by practically all other female duck species.
They are distributed across the state of Wisconsin during the whole year with the exception of the most northern districts, where they are only present during the mating season.
Throughout Wisconsin, gadwall ducks are generally found in migratory habitats; however, there are a few locations where breeding populations may be found.
In contrast to the brown coloring of the females, the males have a complex pattern of grey, brown, and black plumage covering their bodies.
They like water that is rich in aquatic vegetation, and despite the fact that they are dabbling ducks by origin, they have been known to steal food from other kinds of ducks that dive underwater to find their food.
3. Blue-Winged Teal
These little dabbling ducks spend the mating season across Wisconsin before embarking on their migratory trips, which might take them as far south as South America!
They are most at home in areas of water that are not very deep, including wetlands and marshes.
The males have a light buff color with black patches, and their heads are blue-gray with a white blaze right in front of the eye.
4. Wood Duck
The lovely wood duck may be seen across much of Wisconsin during the whole year.
They don’t nest on the ground as other ducks do; instead, they build their nests among the branches of trees in marshy woodlands.
Wood ducks are unique among duck species in that they possess clawed feet and the ability to sit on trees.
The males have a very stunning green crest on top of their heads and bodies that are striped in chestnut, grey, and black.
In addition, female wood ducks possess a white eye band, grey crest, and a blue spot on the wing, making them more colorful than other duck species.
5. American Widgeon
These raucous ducks are passing through Wisconsin as part of their journey south to spend the winter in the Caribbean or South and Central America. While they are here, they will stop to feed.
Widgeons from North America have short bills and thus are brown in color in color with a green eye band and a white mark on the tops of their heads.
Males have a white area on the top of their heads.
Both sexes have white beaks with black tips, and females have a brownish-gray coloration.
Males and females can be distinguished from one another by their beaks.
6. Green-Winged Teal
These ducks are also the tiniest dabbling ducks that can be discovered in the state of Wisconsin and even in all of North America.
They go southward for the winter after having their young in the more northern section of the state, where they reproduce.
The heads of males are a rusty brown color, and they have a wavy green eye patch.
The females appear brown, having a white stripe running down the back of their bodies.
When in flight, both males and females can be distinguished from one another by the presence of green spots on the undersides of their wings.
7. Northern Pintail
The nesting season for northern pintails is spent along the shores of the lakes and wetlands of Wisconsin.
The name of these dabbling ducks comes from the uncommonly long and thin tails that they have.
They also have relatively long necks for ducks, which is especially noticeable in the males due to the fact that the necks of males are predominantly white in comparison to their brown heads.
Northern pintails chose to be doing their going to migrate at dark, flying approximately 51 miles an hour.
8. Northern Shoveler
These extraordinary ducks breed and move through Wisconsin, providing plenty of opportunities to check out their distinctive bills.
Both males and females possess a large, shovel-like bill, using search for food out of the water as those who look for food.
Males have bright green faces and brownish and white filters of color on their bodies.
Females are indeed the customary brown, and yet their beaks seem to be bright yellow.
These ducks remain faithful and maintain their partnerships for a very long time.
9. Common Goldeneye
During the winter months, common goldeneyes travel to Wisconsin to forage for food around the state’s rivers and lakes.
They have a unique physical look, with men and females alike possessing the stunning golden eyes that their name suggests they should have.
The heads of males are likewise green, and their bodies have a stunning white and black pattern.
The bodies of females are grey, while their heads are brown.
Common goldeneyes, much the same as wood ducks, lay their eggs in holes in trees.
The bufflehead, a little duck with a disproportionately huge head, spends much of its time migrating through Wisconsin, occasionally pausing to spend the winter in the southeastern part of the state.
These diving ducks make their nests in trees, taking over the cavities formerly used by woodpeckers.
The bodies of the males are black and white, but their heads are a greenish-purple color, and they have a huge white marking on the back of their heads.
The cheeks of the females are white, while the rest of their bodies are brown.
11. Ring-Necked Duck
These diving ducks have their breeding grounds in the northern part of Wisconsin and spend the autumn and winter months traveling south through the remainder of the state.
They may be found in marshes and shallow bodies of water.
Males have a pronounced peak on the tops of their heads, which may be black, grey, or white in coloration.
The heads of females are rounded and pointed, and they have brown bodies and grey faces.
As the name suggests, they do wear a ring over their neck, but the color of the ring, which is brown, blends in too nicely for it to be immediately noticed.
12. Hooded Merganser
The southern part of Wisconsin is where you’ll find hooded mergansers throughout the year, while the northern half of the state is where you’ll find them during the mating season.
They may be found in bodies of water such as ponds and waterways, and they nest on trees.
The ducklings are just one day old when they leave the nest, yet they are able to leap from branch to ground without skipping a beat.
These ducks possess tiny beaks and large heads that are covered with an elaborate crest that may be raised or lowered depending on the situation.
The crest of a female is a light brown color, but the crest of a male has a prominent black-and-white pattern.
These ducks are impossible to overlook!
Migratory ducks like these break in Wisconsin for a bite to eat and a place to relax before continuing their journey south to spend the winter across the southern United States and Mexico.
The gregarious nature of redheads is well known; during migration, they congregate in flocks numbering in the thousands.
The heads of males have a chestnut color, while the bodies of males are black and grey.
Both sexes possess grey bills having white tips, while the females are brown in color.
The winter range of the canvasback extends slightly into southern Wisconsin, where it is common for these ducks to be seen in lakes.
They possess heads that slope straight downward and descend to the ocean floor in order to consume the vegetation there.
The males feature black tails and chests, while their heads are brown.
Their bodies are white, and they bear brown bookends.
The females are quite pale, although their breasts and rears are darker.
15. Lesser Scaup
The lesser scaup is a bird that passes through Wisconsin during its annual migration and congregates in large groups on big lakes.
The diet of these ducks that dive for food consists of watery vegetation and invertebrates.
The skulls of both boys and females are shaped in a unique peak.
The body of the males is grey and white, while their heads are black.
The beaks of the females appear white, while the rest of their bodies are a chocolate brown color.
16. Khaki Campbell
These ducks are able to flourish in both hot and cold areas because of their adaptability.
Due to the fact that they can be bred for both eggs and meat and are very prolific when it comes to laying eggs, they are among the most common types of domestic ducks.
Khaki Campbell ducks have olive-colored heads and brown bodies.
Pekins represent the most common breed of domestic duck; hence their name is perhaps the most recognizable.
In addition to being farmed for their meat and eggs, these friendly ducks, which are white with yellowish beaks and feet, also make wonderful pets.
It’s possible that they’ll hatch up to 200 eggs in a single year.
Muscovy ducks, with their peculiar and bumpy red cheeks, are among the earliest domesticated kinds of ducks.
They are almost impossible to miss.
They are gentle ducks that are grown for their eggs and meat, but some people also keep them as pets.
Because they are not as resistant to the cold compared to the other species on the list, they need more protection from the elements during the winter months.
Appleyard ducks were originally bred across England for the purpose of producing both meat and eggs.
They mature rapidly and may lay as many as 280 eggs in a single year.
They are sociable ducks.
They have a similar appearance to Mallard ducks; however, their coloration is more silvery in tone.
Cayuga ducks may be smaller than other species of ducks, but they are among the hardest when it comes to surviving the harsh winters.
They are one of the most common types of ducks kept as pets in addition to being raised for their eggs and meat.
In a typical year, they will hatch between 110 and 150 eggs.
The appearance of Rouens is similar to that of bigger, heavier, and more flight-reluctant Mallard ducks.
They are kept for the purpose of producing both eggs and meat.
Due to the laid-back nature of these ducks, they are also often kept as pets and displayed in a variety of settings.
22. Welsh Harlequin
This breed originated from a color mutation that was discovered for the first time in a group of Khaki Campbell ducks.
They are a more recent breed that was not standardized until the middle of the twentieth century.
These ducks are outstanding layers and are kept not just for their meat but also for their eggs.
They are also amiable and inquisitive ducks who love interacting with humans, which contributes to their popularity as pets.
23. Indian Runner
Indian runner ducks have been originally referred to as “penguin ducks” because of their ability to run instead of the waddle and their upright posture, which is similar to that of penguins.
Because of their slim body types, this breed is employed almost exclusively for egg production rather than for the production of meat.
24. Call Duck
These little ducks are descended from mallards, but in comparison to their wild predecessors, they are significantly smaller and have shorter beaks.
Due to their size and outgoing nature, they are more often maintained as pets or display ducks rather than eating them.
It is important to remember that they are small, loud birds if you are searching for ducks to maintain in your garden.
The Saxony duck was bred throughout Germany, and it has been shown to be very versatile and able to withstand the cold.
They are excellent producers since they may hatch as many as 250 eggs in a single year.
Even though they don’t reach slaughter weight as quickly as some other breeds, they are also bred for their flesh.
26. Buff Orpington
One of the most attractive and sociable breeds of ducks available, the Muscovy is renowned for its quality as a source of meat but is also often kept as a companion animal.
This is a tough breed of duck that was developed in England.
It has a beautiful buff color, and its beaks and feet are yellow.
They gain weight rapidly, making them an excellent choice for a flesh duck.
There is a wide variety of duck life in Wisconsin, with some ducks being wild and others being domesticated.
It’s possible that they have permanent homes in the state or that they’re only traveling through.
We hope that you had fun reading about the 26 different species of ducks that can be discovered in the state of Wisconsin.
Your interest in Wisconsin’s waterfowl may have been motivated by a variety of factors.
What are the most common types of ducks found in Wisconsin?
The mallard is the most common duck found in Wisconsin, followed by the wood duck, blue-winged teal, and ring-necked duck.
Where can I go to see ducks in Wisconsin?
You can find ducks in many of Wisconsin’s wetlands, marshes, and lakes. Some popular birding locations include the Horicon Marsh, the Crex Meadows Wildlife Area, and the Milwaukee River.
When is the best time to see ducks in Wisconsin?
The best time to see ducks in Wisconsin is during the fall and spring migration periods, when many species travel through the state on their way to and from breeding grounds.
Are there any endangered duck species found in Wisconsin?
Yes, the trumpeter swan, wood duck, and black tern are all considered endangered species in Wisconsin.
Do ducks migrate or are they permanent residents in Wisconsin?
Some duck species such as mallards are permanent residents while other species like Blue-winged teal, and ring-necked duck migrate.