Birds of Seabrook Island

COAST BIRDS
  Contents
  Index
WORLD BIRDS
  Contents
  Index

ANECDOTES

  Dark Dabblers
 
 

BACK - NEXT

 

Species Acct.
Loons
Grebes
Procellarids
Pelicans
Herons
Ibises
Storks
Vultures
Flamingos
Waterfowl
Raptors
Turkeys
Quail
Rails
Limpkin
Cranes
Shorebirds
Gulls
Terns
Auks
Doves
Parrots
Cuckoos
Owls
Goatsuckers
Swifts
Hummers
Kingfishers
Woodpckrs
Flycatchers
Shrikes
Vireos
Crows/Jays
Larks
Swallows
Tits
Nuthatches
Creepers
Wrens
Kinglets
Gnatcatchers
Thrushes
Mimids
Starlings
Pipits
Waxwings
NW Warblers
Tanagers
NWSparrows
Cardinalines
Icterids
Finches
OWSparrows

TOP

       
  Order Anseriformes - Waterfowl
   Family Anatidae - Ducks, Geese, and Swans
      Subfamily Anatinae - True Ducks
         Tribe Anatini - Dabbling Ducks
  Waterfowl vary in size - from teal to swans. They all have webbed feet and dense, waterproof plumage. Most nest on the ground and the nest is lined with down plucked by the female from her breast. Except for two small groups not found in North America, all belong to one (or two) families.
Ducks, Geese, and Swans are waterfowl with their bill finely serrated or grooved on the edge. Their tongue is fleshy. Their front toes are webbed. Males have a functional penis. They are strong fliers and many migrate long distances. 
True Ducks are sexually dimorphic. The female incubates and cares for the young - the male usually deserts early. Ducks undergo a simultaneous molt of their flight feathers and are flightless until the flight feathers of the alternate plumage regrow. Thus, males wear their nuptial plumage on the winter grounds where pair formation occurs in most species. 
Dabbling Ducks all belong to the genus Anas. They feed on or near the surface or "upend," tilting their body vertically to feed on aquatic vegetation.     
     
     
 
"Dark" Dabblers 
  All 46 species placed in the genus Anas are closely related and will freely interbreed in captivity. Remarkably, in nature, they tend to maintain their species lines intact. Formerly, our most common dabbler was the American Black Duck but it is now the Green-winged Teal. Note that we are unlikely to see any dabblers on Seabrook unless we offer supplemental feeding. Nevertheless, there are three species of Anas that could occur in winter and that are not easy to distinguish.
  American Black Duck. The darkest of the trio with cold grayish tones. They have a grayish throat and their bill is greenish yellow. The greenish speculum in the wing is not outlined with white. Males and females are alike.
   The legs and feet of all three species are reddish-orange.
   Winter only.
Dabblers
    American Wigeon (left), American Black Duck (right). Blue Hole, Castalia, OH
  Mallard. Mallards are dichromic and bright males are easily recognized. However, the female is more difficult to distinguish if she is alone. The female is generally lighter than the black duck. Her bill is orange, usually with a dark center and she has an obvious eyeline. Note the bold white bars in front of and behind the speculum (the purple band on secondaries in the wing).
   Winter only (although some remain around farm ponds and wildlife reserves). Summer remnants may breed with Mottled Ducks (below).
Mallard Mallard
  Male Mallard Female Mallard
  Mottled Duck. Males and females are alike. Mottled ducks have a warm, brown body but her bill is a bright yellow and the throat and cheeks are buffy and unmarked. There are very narrow white bars around the speculum.
   Mottled Ducks are resident. They spread (or were introduced) from south Florida populations and breed in fresh water marshes along our coast.
Mottled Duck
    Mottled Duck. Jenkins Point
   
Dabblers
4 Mallards, 1 American Black Duck. East End Lagoon, Kiawah Island. December. Compare female Mallard with the Black Duck...(and Mottled Duck above)
© Kiawah Island Wildlife
 
       
    Banner - pair of Mottled Ducks, Bull Island. Cape Romain NWR.
       
NEXT
 

KEY:    ■ Seabrook list     □ Kiawah list