The speculum is a patch of often iridescent color on the secondary feathers of many duck species.  It is often seen as a bright patch of color on the rear of the wing when the wing is spread during flight or when the bird is stretching.  The color and size of the speculum varies by species.

The speculum may also be edged with white or other colors.

The leading edge of the wings of several duck species can also be very colorful and a nice aid to identification.  Here are some examples of very distinctive speculums and other wing colors.

The underside of the wings, referred to as the wing linings, are usually very plain in appearance.

Blue-winged Teal
It is easy to see where this species obtained its name.  Note the speculum is green.  Compare the colored parts of the wing to the the image that follows.

blue-winged teal in flight

duck wing pattern

Northern Shoveler
The male Northern Shoveler wing pattern is very similar to the Blue-winged Teal.  The distinctive large bill of the shoveler is clearly noticeable.

northern shoveler in flight

Gadwall
The Gadwall has a very different wing pattern. The white speculum is very visible in flight.

gadwall in flight

Mallard
The Mallard has a very distinctive speculum that can appear blue to purple, depending on the light. The speculum is edged above and below with white.

mallard in flight

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