North Dakota is known for its wide open spaces and unique landscapes of deep canyons and sharp peaks. As a great birding destination, The Peace Garden State has a variety of grasslands and wetlands, providing plenty of places for ducks to live and breed.
What Ducks Are in North Dakota?
Twenty-four species of ducks have been recorded in North Dakota.
American Black Duck
Listen to American Black Duck
American Black Ducks are big dabbling ducks. These waterfowl are considered the heaviest species in the genus Anas, weighing an average of 1,640 g (3.62 lbs).
Both males and females share pale brown heads, dark brown bodies, blue-purple patches on the wings and red-orange legs. Males have olive-yellow bills while females have dark gray bills.
The American Black Duck is endemic to the eastern part of North America. They inhabit salt and brackish marshes, freshwater and coastal wetland habitat, estuaries, rivers and edges of backwater ponds. Some flocks live near beaver ponds, forested swamps, and bogs in boreal forests and shallow lakes.
American Black Ducks are omnivores with a diverse diet. These waterfowl birds feed by grazing on land and dabbling in shallow water. They primarily eat plant materials such as wetlands grasses, stems, leaves, seeds and root stalks of water plants. They are also known to feed on small fishes, mollusks, snails, amphipods, mussels and insects.
The current population of the American Black Duck is estimated to be around 1 million birds.
Scientific Name: Anas rubripes
Height: 54–59 cm (21–23 in)
Wingspan: 88–95 cm (35–37 in)
Weight: 720–1,640 g (1.59–3.62 lb)
Listen to American Wigeon
The American Wigeon is a dabbling duck found in North America. It is a medium-sized duck that is larger than a teal but smaller than a pintail. It is different than other North American dabblers with its round head, small bill and short neck.
Males have a distinct green stripe behind the eyes, a white crown and mostly brown bodies. Females have a dark smudge around the eyes, brownish-gray heads and warmer brown bodies.
The American Wigeon is common and widespread in North America. They breed in all regions of the continent except for the northern regions of Canada and Alaska. Most of the population of these ducks breed in wetlands in boreal forests and subarctic river deltas of Alaska and Canada.
During winter, many American Wigeons travel through the major flyways, they are most numerous on the Pacific Flyway. They spend winters in California’s Central Valley, Louisiana’s Gulf Coast and Texas Panhandle. Some flocks of wintering American Wigeons fly further south in the Caribbean.
As dabbling ducks, the American wigeons feed by dabbling and grazing but they are mostly found feeding on dry land. They eat grains, seeds, grasses, wheat and lettuce.
Scientific Name: Mareca americana
Height: 42–59 cm (17–23 in)
Wingspan: 76–91 cm (30–36 in)
Weight: 512–1,330 g (1.129–2.932 lb)
Listen to Black Scoter
The black scoter, also known as the American scoter, is a relatively large sea duck with an average length of 49 cm (19 in). It has a bulky shape and a large bill.
Adult Males have an all-black plumage on both body and head except for the yellow knob at the base of their large bill. Females have smaller bills, brown bodies with pale faces.
Black scoters live near saltwater, ponds and small lakes. They breed in the northern regions of North America, particularly in Newfoundland, Labrador, and the northwest and southeast parts of Hudson Bay. Some flocks of black scoters breed in scattered locations east of Yana River on the Siberian side of the Bering Strait. During winter, they form large flocks of other wintering scoter specie and migrate south.
Black scoters dive underwater for mollusks, crustaceans and shellfish. They occasionally feed on vegetation such as duckweed.
There are an estimated 1 million black scoters worldwide. However, this duck’s number is declining due to habitat loss caused by climate change and pollution.
Scientific Name: Melanitta americana
Length: 430–550 mm (17–21.5 in)
Wingspan: 710 mm (28 in)
Weight: 950 g (2.09 lb)
Listen to Blue-winged Teal
The Blue-winged Teal is a small duck that lives in North America.
Breeding males have a glossy blue-gray head with a white crescent-shaped patch in front of the dark eyes. They also have black wings and rears.
Females have mostly brown bodies with black bills, dark caps and eyeliners on the head.
The Blue-winged Teal’s diet consists mostly of aquatic plants like pondweed, but it will also eat insects when they are available. This duck often feeds by pecking at the surface of the water rather than diving for food. It will sometimes form small groups to feed together or fly in single file formation when migrating south for winter.
Blue-winged teals are found in marshes, ponds, lakes, and rivers throughout the United States south of Canada, and north of Mexico.
They are migratory birds and fly south for the winter months to warmer climates. It winters along the Atlantic coast from southern New England to Virginia and then moves further south as far as Mexico.
Scientific Name: Spatula discors
Height: 40 cm (16 in)
Wingspan: 58 cm (23 in)
Weight: 370 g (13 oz)
Listen to Bufflehead
Buffleheads are striking ducks. They are small ducks with relatively large heads.
Males have a huge white patch on their iridescent purple-green heads. They also have short dark bills, white chests and flanks.
Females have a distinct white patch on the cheeks, rounded heads and brownish bodies.
Buffleheads breed in boreal forests and taigas of Alaska and Canada. These sea ducks migrate to the southern parts of the United States, settling near coastal and open inland waters. Some flocks even travel as far as western Europe.
Buffleheads are diving ducks that dive underwater to forage for food. They primarily feed on small aquatic insects, crustaceans and mollusks. They also consume aquatic plants and fish eggs occasionally.
Scientific Name: Bucephala albeola
Length: 32–40 cm (13–16 in)
Wingspan: 21.6 in (55 cm)
Weight: 270–550 g (9.5–19.4 oz)
Listen to Canvasbacks
Canvasbacks are large diving ducks with sloping foreheads and dark bills. The male has red eyes, a black chest and a white body. The female has black eyes, a brown head and a pale gray body.
Breeding populations of canvasbacks are found scatted all over the North American prairie potholes and the subarctic river deltas of Saskatchewan and Alaska. These ducks prefer to nest over or near prairie marshes surround by protective vegetation such as bulrushes and cattails.
Canvasbacks are diving ducks which means they feed primarily by diving underwater. They eat a variety of plant materials such as seeds, leaves, tubers, roots and buds. They prefer sago pondweed tubers which consist 100% of their diets at times. These waterfowl also feed on snails, insect larvae and small fish.
Scientific Name: Aythya valisineria
Height: 48–56 cm (19–22 in)
Wingspan: 79–89 cm (31–35 in)
Weight: 862–1,600 g (1.900–3.527 lb)
Listen to Common Goldeneye Duck
The Common Goldeneye Duck is a medium-sized diving duck that breeds across the northern hemisphere in North America, Asia, and Europe. It winters in the southern hemisphere.
Males have dark green heads with bright yellow eyes. They also have a distinctive white cheek patch. Their bodies are white with black back and rump.
Females have brown heads but with a short dark bill with a yellow tip at the end. They have gray-colored bodies, a white neck collar and pale yellow eyes.
Common Goldeneyes are also known for their unique calls. It sounds like a squeaky rubber toy being squeezed repeatedly. This makes them easy to identify by ear in addition to sight!
As one of North America’s most abundant ducks, Common Goldeneyes live in lakes, ponds, rivers, and marshes. Most of these ducks also live near shorelines where there is plenty of fish and vegetation available for food sources.
The Common Goldeneye Duck is listed as “least concern” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which means that it isn’t threatened with extinction
Scientific Name: Bucephala clangula
Male: 45–51 cm (18–20 in)
Female: 40–50 cm (16–20 in)
Wingspan: 30.3-32.7 in (77-83 cm)
Male: 1,000 g (2.2 lb)
Female: 800 g (1.8 lb)
Listen to Common Merganser
Common Mergansers are fairly large ducks with long slender bills, with different tip colors depending on gender. Males have black tips while females have brown tips.
Males have long, large white bodies with a Mallard-like green head. Females have a ragged crest atop a warm cinnamon-colored head.
Common mergansers are omnivores, eating both plants and animals such as small fish or insects. They eat their prey by diving underwater and spearing it with their long bill before swallowing it whole.
The habitat of this bird is lakes, rivers, ponds, and marshes. They prefer quieter bodies of water with plenty of vegetation along the shores where they can rest during the day before moving on to hunt at night.
The current population of this bird is considered stable due to its ability to thrive even when there are threats present due to its adaptability as well as its wide range across North America.
Scientific Name: Mergus merganser
Length: 58–72 cm (23–28+1⁄2 in)
Wingspan: 78–97 cm (30+1⁄2–38 in)
Weight: 0.9–2.1 kg (2 lb 0 oz – 4 lb 10 oz)
Listen to Gadwall
The Gadwall is a common dabbling duck with breeding populations in northern parts of North America, Europe and Russia.
Males have overalls of an intricate pattern of gray, brown and black. They have dark bills. Females resemble female mallards with brown bodies.
The gadwall nests on the ground near open wetlands with dense vegetation such as steppe lakes, marshes and wet grasslands.
Gadwalls are migratory birds. Their North American population spends winters in the southern parts of the United States, Mexico and Central America.
Gadwalls are omnivores. They primarily eat submerged vegetation such as grasses, pondweed, algae, and water milfoil. They also eat snails, water beetles and other small invertebrates.
Scientific Name: Mareca strepera
Height: 46–56 cm (18–22 in)
Wingspan: 78–90 cm (31–35 in)
Male: 990 g (35 oz)
Female: 850 g (30 oz
Listen to Greater Scaup
The Greater Scaup is a large diving duck with a distinctive white band on its head. The rest of its body is brown with a blue-grey sheen on its back and tail (which can be seen when they fly). The male is larger than the female, with a more pronounced bill and more white wing feathers. It has a black bill, black feet and legs, and gray plumage.
They prefer shallow water close to shore where they can feed on aquatic vegetation and small fish. They are omnivorous creatures who feed on mollusks, crustaceans, insects (especially water beetles), worms, and other small invertebrates like larval dragonflies which comprise about 60% of their diet.
This species breeds in the northern taiga regions of Canada and Alaska and winters in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, as well as some inland lakes. It is an uncommon sight in North America but can be found in many areas across Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia. In winter, it migrates to southern Canada and parts of the northeastern United States.
Scientific Name: Aythya marila
Height: 39–56 cm (15–22 in)
Wingspan: 71–84 cm (28–33 in)
Weight: 726–1,360 g (1.601–2.998 lb)
Listen to Green-winged Teal
Green-winged Teals are among the most common ducks in the northern regions of North America except on the Aleutian Islands. They are the smallest dabbling ducks on the continent.
Males have chestnut-colored heads with a green streak behind the eye. They also have gray-barred bodies with a vertical white stripe on the sides.
Females have a mottled brown plumage, similar to that of female Mallards. They have a dark eye-line.
Both males and females have a green patch on the wings which are hidden often hidden while they are resting but visible when in flight.
Green-winged Teals breed in the northern parts of North America. Breeding populations of these ducks are found in the Aleutian Islands, northern Alaska, northern Saskatchewan and other northern Canadian provinces.
Green-winged Teal primarily eats plant matter such as seeds, stems and leaves. They also consume grains such as millets, wheat, corn and barley. It occasionally feed on mollusks, crustaceans, maggots of decaying fish and insects. The green-winged teal searches for food on mud flats, shallow marshes and flooded agricultural lands.
Scientific Name: Anas crecca
Height: 12.2-15.3 in (31-39 cm)
Wingspan: 20.5-23.2 in (52-59 cm)
Weight: 4.9-17.6 oz (140-500 g)
Listen to Hooded Merganser
The Hooded Merganser is a relatively small duck with a slender body and a long tail.
Breeding males have a large black crest with a large white patch on each side. They also have golden yellow eyes.
Females have brown bodies with a slightly lighter colored crest which looks like a mohawk. They have dark eyes.
Non-breeding males look similar to females but with yellow eyes.
Hooded mergansers live in North America and spend most of their time in freshwater ponds, lakes, estuaries and rivers. These ducks migrate south for the winter but there are some flocks that stay in the eastern United States all year.
The hooded merganser’s diet consists primarily of small fish, aquatic insects, crustaceans, and frogs. Depending on the circumstances, these ducks may occasionally feed on plants and seeds.
Scientific Name: Lophodytes cucullatus
Length: 15.8-19.3 in (40-49 cm)
Wingspan: 23.6-26.0 in (60-66 cm)
Weight: 16.0-31.0 oz (453-879 g)
Listen to Lesser Scaup
The Lesser Scaup is a small diving duck native to North America and winter in Central America. Lesser Scaups are smaller than Greater Scaups.
Males have golden yellow eyes. Their chests and heads are black with a purple sheen. Their sides are white while their backs have an intricate pattern of gray and white feathers.
Females have darker heads than males. They have gray sides and brown bodies with a white patch around the base of their bills.
The Lesser Scaup’s habitat is typically freshwater lakes, rivers, and streams. They can also be found on large ponds and reservoirs with plenty of aquatic vegetation.
Lesser Scaups eat mostly fish but also insects and small crustaceans, which they find by diving beneath the surface of the water for up to 40 seconds at a time.
Lesser scaups breed in shallow ponds and lakes across Canada and much of the northern United States from late April through May. They usually nest in colonies with other species such as Mallards and Common Goldeneyes.
The Lesser Scaup is not considered to be endangered or threatened and is currently listed as Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Scientific Name: Aythya affinis
Height: 41.7–43 cm (16.4–16.9 in)
Wingspan: 68–78 cm (27–31 in)
Weight: 454–1,089 g (1.001–2.401 lb)
Listen to Long-tailed Duck
Long-tailed Ducks are species of duck that are native to Australia and New Zealand. They are named for their long, narrow tail feathers, which can be over 30% longer than the rest of their body. It has a black bill, brown eyes, and grayish-brown feathers on its back and wings. The underside of the bird is white in color.
The Long-tailed Duck eats aquatic plants, seeds, insects, snails, mollusks, crustaceans, fish eggs, and small fish. They can dive up to 60 feet below the surface.
These species of duck prefer to live in areas where there are plenty of lakes and ponds for them to feed on. They are also known for being very territorial so they tend not to share their space with other species unless they have no choice but to or if they’re trying to breed.
They are migratory birds, traveling from Canada to Europe during the summer months before returning south for winter months in North America or Asia.
They can be found in Europe, Asia, North America, and parts of South America. They breed in freshwater lakes from May through July or August depending on where they live. They migrate to southern latitudes during the winter months to avoid freezing temperatures.
Long-tailed Ducks have a current population of roughly 2 million individuals worldwide—that’s down from an estimated 4 million during the 1980s.
Scientific Name: Clangula hyemalis
Length: 440–600 mm (17.5–23.5 in)
Wingspan: 710 mm (28 in)
Weight: 740 g (1.63 lb)
Listen to Mallard
Mallards are native to the Northern Hemisphere. These ducks live in many parts of the United States and Canada.
The male mallard duck has a lustrous green head, with a white collar that sets off his dark chestnut breast. His back is a rich brown, and his tail is adorned with iridescent blue and green feathers.
The female mallard has mottled brown overalls with an orange and brown bill.
The Mallard’s diet consists mostly of seeds, fruit, and insects. These ducks have been known to consume small rodents when available. They usually feed at night in shallow water or on land near water sources.
Most Mallards live in wetlands such as ponds, lakes, and rivers. They also inhabit saltwater environments close to lands such as bays and estuaries.
Mallards are also social birds that travel in flocks during the breeding season. Males and females form monogamous pairs during the winter months when they migrate southward to warmer climates and go back to their breeding grounds in early spring.
Scientific Name: Anas platyrhynchos
Height: 50–65 cm (20–26 in)
Wingspan: 81–98 cm (32–39 in)
Weight: 0.7–1.6 kg (1.5–3.5 lb)
Listen to Northern Pintail
Northern Pintails are slender ducks with relatively long necks and tails. The male has a cinnamon-brown head, a white breast and throat. While males have gray bodies, females have rufous-brown plumage. Both sexes have a pale black-gray bill.
The Northern Pintail is a migratory bird that nests on or near open water with some floating vegetation nearby.
Northern Pintails feed on aquatic plants such as bulrush roots, pondweeds, wild celery and sedges. They also feed on seeds from different plants like grass, insects such as dragonflies, fish and other small animals worms and tadpoles.
There are approximately 1 million Northern Pintails left in the wild today.
Scientific Name: Anas acuta
Male: 59–76 cm (23–30 in)
Female: 51–64 cm (20–25 in)
Wingspan: 80–95 cm (31–37 in)
Male: 450–1,360 g (0.99–3.00 lb)
Female: 454–1,135 g (1.001–2.502 lb)
Listen to Northern Shovelers
The northern shoveler, often known as the shoveler in the United Kingdom, is a common and ubiquitous duck. With its brown head and neck and breast, greenish-yellow bill and wings, white breast and belly, and the dark greenback, and black tail feathers, it’s hard to mistake for any other duck species.
This duck lives in freshwater ponds, marshes, lakes, rivers, and streams but will also sometimes inhabit brackish water areas where the water has a high salt content. It breeds in North America from Canada to Mexico, migrating south for the winter months.
The Northern Shoveler’s diet consists primarily of aquatic plants like duckweed and water lettuce. It also eats insects, worms, crustaceans, and mollusks if they can find them in the water.
Wintering in southern Europe, the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, Central, the Caribbean, and northern South America, it breeds in northern Europe, through the Palearctic, and across much of North America.
Scientific Name: Spatula clypeata
Height: 16 in (41 cm)
Wingspan: 22-inch (560 mm)
Weight: 14 oz (400 g)
Listen to Red-breasted Merganser
Red-breasted Mergansers have long, slender bodies with equally long, thin bills and gray flanks.
Breeding males have cinnamon chests, red eyes, white neck bands and shaggy-looking green heads. The back and wings are dark brown, with some iridescent feathering on the wings.
Non-breeding males and females have mostly grayish bodies, spiky reddish-brown heads and brown eyes.
Red-breasted Mergansers feed on small fish by diving into the water. They use their wings to propel themselves forward like penguins do when swimming underwater.
Red-breasted Mergansers breed in boreal forests of North America. They inhabit lakes, rivers, and ponds where they can search for food and protect themselves against predators.
Red-breasted Mergansers are not endangered or threatened at this time because it has a very large population of over 8 million birds worldwide.
Scientific Name: Mergus serrator
Length: 51–62 cm (20–24 in)
Wingspan: 70–86 cm (28–34 in)
Weight: 28.2 to 47.6 oz (800 to 1,350 g)
Listen to Redhead
The redhead is a medium-sized diving duck. On average, it weighs 2.5 lbs (1.1 kgs). This duck species is related to the common pochard and canvasback.
Both males and females have a steep forehead. Males have cinnamon-red heads with black-tipped gray bills, black chests and gray bodies. Females have brown bodies and pale faces.
Redheads can be found throughout North America, with the exception of southern Mexico and parts of the southeastern United States. They are most common in coastal areas and large rivers. In fact, many people mistake them for musk ducks when they see them in freshwater habitats.
Redheads are migratory birds and migrate south in the winter. Many flocks of redheads spend winters in Florida, Texas, Louisiana, Oregon, California and along the Gulf of Mexico.
Redheads primarily live in wetlands, lakes, rivers, coastal marshes, estuaries and bays. These ducks prefer to inhabit areas near the water that is deep enough to provide a variety of food sources such as aquatic plants and small fishes.
Scientific Name: Aythya americana
Height: 37 cm (15 in)
Weight: 2.0 to 2.5 lbs
Wingspan: 84 cm (33 in)
Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris)
The Ring-necked Duck has a bright orange bill with a black tip and an olive-green head with a black mask across its eyes and down its beak. Its neck is white and speckled with gray, brown, or black patches. The rest of its body is grayish-brown to dark brown.
Scientific Name: Aythya collaris
Height: 15.3-18.1 in (39-46 cm)
Wingspan: 24.4-24.8 in (62-63 cm)
Weight: 17.3-32.1 oz (490-910 g)
Ring-necked Duck Description
Ring-necked ducks are omnivorous so they also eat seeds and grains when they’re available too. They eat grasses, insects such as beetles and dragonflies when they’re available, seeds, and other types of plants like duckweed, water lilies, pondweeds, and grasses that grow along water edges or in open water areas.
Ring-necked Duck Sound
Ring-necked Duck Habitat & Range
Ring-necked ducks can be found throughout North America, Central America, and northern South America. It breeds in freshwater marshes, ponds, lakes, and streams. They’re also known to breed in saltwater marshes.
They use their bills to eat these things from the bottom of the lake or pond. They also swim underwater when they eat food. It prefers freshwater marshes, lakes, ponds, streams, rivers, and estuaries near forest edges where trees provide nesting sites for the ducklings.
Ring-necked Duck Range Map credit: https://perceviaassets.azurewebsites.net/
Ring-necked Duck Diet
They feed on aquatic plants like pondweed as well as insects and other invertebrates. They will also eat small crustaceans such as crabs or shrimp if they can find them in their habitat.
Ring-necked Duck Nesting
During breeding season (which is usually in April or May), males will form flocks on the water while females lay eggs in nests made from grasses near shorelines or floating on debris near shorelines where there are no predators present to threaten their young hatchlings.
Listen to Ruddy Duck
Ruddy Ducks, commonly referred to as Ruddies, are medium-sized ducks of North America.
Breeding males in their breeding plumage are unlike any other duck you’ve seen. They have thick necks, white cheeks and bright blue bills.
Females and non-breeding males are soft orange-brown with a dark, scoop-like bill.
Ruddy Ducks are omnivorous, eating plants and insects as well as fish and small animals. It eats insects, grains, seeds, and aquatic plants. They are monogamous animals; they mate for life and have one clutch per year of 4-6 eggs that hatch after 25 days.
Ruddy Ducks frequently move in small groups of 5–15 birds at night. They’re also very sociable animals.
Ruddy Ducks live in freshwater lakes, ponds, rivers, marshes, and swamps. They are migratory birds that spend the winter in South America. They are typically found in freshwater lakes and marshes during the breeding season (April through August), but they can also be seen on rivers or coasts during migration or wintering months (October through February).
Scientific Name: Oxyura jamaicensis
Length: 13.8-16.9 in (35-43 cm)
Wingspan: 22.1-24.4 in (56-62 cm)
Weight: 10.6-30.0 oz (300-850 g)
Listen to Surf Scoter
The Surf Scoter is a medium-sized sea duck black head, a colorful bill and white patches on the nape and forehead. They are “molt migrants,” meaning they migrate to an area where they may molt their flying feathers after nesting.
The Surf Scoter is an excellent swimmer, with webbed feet that allow it to dive after fish. They are able to dive deep into the ocean to find food, but they can only stay underwater for about 1 minute before having to come up for air.
The Surf Scoter’s diet consists of fish such as sand eels, anchovies, capelin, smelt, and herring. At times they can also feed on crustaceans such as krill or shrimp. It uses its bill to filter out small organisms from the water as it swims along the surface of the ocean.
The Surf Scoter breeds on Arctic coasts from Greenland to Alaska, but most populations migrate south to winter off California and Mexico. They can also be found along the coastlines of South America, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan.
Scientific Name: Melanitta perspicillata
Male: 48 cm (19 in)
Female: 44 cm (17 in)
Wingspan: 29.9-30.3 in (76-77 cm)
Male: 1,050 g (2.31 lb)
Female: 900 g (2.0 lb)
Listen to White-winged Scoter
The White-winged Scoter is classified as an “oceanic” bird because it spends most of its time in marine waters. They have white feathers on their wings and are named after the white patch on their back. It is a medium-sized duck that has a black head, neck, and upper body, with a white breast and belly. The rest of its plumage is dark brown.
They feed primarily on mollusks, crustaceans, and fish, which they find by sweeping their bills side to side through the water in search of prey. When this happens, you’ll hear them make a loud clacking noise with their bills—which is how they got their name “scoter”.
It prefers to make its home near the coastlines of North America, Europe, and Asia. They can be found in large groups of other waterfowl but prefer to keep themselves separate from them.
They are migratory birds that make seasonal journeys between northern Canada and Mexico each spring/summer season before returning south for the winter months (December through April).
Scientific Name: Melanitta deglandi
Length: 18.9-22.8 in (48-58 cm)
Wingspan: 31.5 in (80 cm).
Weight: 33.5-63.5 oz (950-1800 g)
Listen to Wood Duck
The Wood Duck is a medium-sized duck. The male wood duck has a green crested head, red eyes, and chestnut breast with white flecks. The female has a brown body with a grayish head, which is also slightly crested, a white teardrop eye patch, and a blue patch on the wing.
Breeding populations of wood ducks are found in eastern and western United States, southern Canada and western parts of Mexico. During winter, northern wood ducks migrate south but birds in the southern parts of North America stay all year round, especially those in the Pacific Flyway.
Wood ducks inhibit wood areas near the water such as ponds, rivers, lakes, marshes and swamps. They nest in cavities of dead trees and properly installed nest boxes in wetland locations.
Wood ducks are omnivores. They either dabble on the surface of the water or graze on the land. Their diet primarily consists of acorns, seeds, grapes, cherries and other water plants such as water lilies and pond weeds. They occasionally feed on small animals such as insects and worms.
Scientific Name: Aix sponsa
Height: 47 to 54 cm (19 to 21 in) ( or 1.5 feet max.)
Wingspan: 66 to 73 cm (26 to 29 in)
Weight: 454-862 g (16.0-30.4 oz)
Where to Watch Ducks in North Dakota?
North Dakota, with its diverse landscapes, sprawling wetlands, and rich habitats, is an exceptional destination for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts looking to observe a wide array of duck species.
Notable birdwatching locations within the state include the J. Clark Salyer National Wildlife Refuge, the Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge, and the Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge, all offering ample opportunities for exploration and admiration of these captivating ducks.
Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge, Long Lake National Wildlife Refuge and Arrowwood National Wildlife Refuge are among the state’s 31 natural wildlife refuges that offer diverse habitats for many ducks.
Kellys Slough National Wildlife Refuge is perhaps North Dakota’s top birding destination for watching ducks. Located west of Grand Forks, the area is home to twelve species of ducks, with mallards and gadwalls as the most abundant. Canvasbacks, redheads and hooded mergansers also nest in the refuge.
To the north, you can uncover the remarkable variety of ducks in Manitoba, Canada and marvel at the diverse species that inhabit the province’s wetlands. Venturing eastward, you’ll encounter the picturesque landscapes of Minnesota, which host the abundant duck populations in Minnesota, offering a fresh perspective on these delightful birds.
Finally, to the south, explore the impressive duck habitats in South Dakota and immerse yourself in the state’s rich ecosystems, appreciating the beauty and variety of ducks found throughout the region.
Are There Any Resident Ducks in the State of North Dakota?
There’s no doubt that North Dakota offers some of the best birding experiences in the country. Its diverse landscapes and abundance of waterfowl, such as ducks, make it a top destination for bird-watching and waterfowl hunting.
Unfortunately, North Dakota also experiences harsh winters. On average, three to four severe winter storms ravage the state annually.
Regardless, some ducks, such as mallards and wood ducks, have decided to stay in the state all year. Some of these flocks may travel short distances within the state’s borders to escape extreme weather conditions and to search for food when their usual food sources are frozen and buried in snow.
Duck Hunting in North Dakota
If you want to hunt ducks, add North Dakota to your list of destinations if you haven’t already. Resident and non-resident hunters gather in the state hoping for a bountiful duck harvest during duck hunting season which usually starts as early as September and ends as late as January the following year.
To hunt waterfowl in North Dakota, hunters must obtain the following from the North Dakota Game and Fish Department:
Harvest Information Program registration
Federal Migratory Bird Stamp (duck stamp)
Fishing, Hunting, and Furbearer Certificate
General Game and Habitat License and Small Game License
Combination License (which includes Small Game, General Game and Habitat, Furbearer, and Fishing licenses)
Nonresident Waterfowl License (non-residents)
Additionally, the state has a daily bag of 6 (including sex restrictions) and a possession limit of 18.
Can You Shoot Ducks in North Dakota?
Shooting ducks in ND is allowed but only approved non-toxic shots can be used. Lead shots and other toxic shots are strictly prohibited.
Where to Hunt Ducks in North Dakota?
North Dakota is among the best duck hunting locations in the country. The state has many many places to hunt ducks including wildlife management areas, federal waterfowl production areas and state school lands. Moreover, many private landowners allow hunting ducks on their properties as population control.
Popular duck hunting spots in North Dakota include eastern potholes of Coteau des Prairies and fertile river banks along the Missouri River and the Prairie Pothole Region. Western North Dakota also has many wetlands and grasslands that attract ducks.
Final Thoughts on Ducks in North Dakota
When you think of birding and duck hunting, North Dakota may not be the first that comes to mind. But The Peace Garden State has a lot to offer regarding bird-watching and duck hunting.
With over 2 million acreages of important bird locations and various landscapes, this Midwestern state is home to a large variety of waterfowl, including ducks, geese, and swans. These wetlands are also home to many other bird species, making North Dakota a top destination for birders. And thanks to its relatively flat geography, hunting ducks in ND is a fantastic experience.