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The legs of diving ducks are far back on the body, great for swimming and diving, but they make for clumsy walking.

What you should know:

  • Hybrids are not unusual and can cause confusion.
  • Diving ducks have heavy bodies and require a running start before they can take off.
  • Identification challenges: Canvasback and Redhead have similar coloration patterns but the bill shape makes Canvasbacks easy to identify.
  • Identification challenges: Greater and Lesser Scaup are very similar in appearance and can be difficult to identify correctly. Visit the Scaup Comparison page to learn more.

Select a species for images and descriptive information.

Canvasback   |  Greater Scaup  |   Lesser Scaup   |   Redhead   |   Ring-necked Duck   |  Tufted Duck

Male Canvasback

Male Canvasback  Photograph © Glenn Bartley

The following four images represent the females of three different species. 

They can be difficult to separate, especially when seen at a distance and/or under poor lighting conditions.

Scroll to the bottom of the page to see the names in order.

redhead duck

Diving ducks have a streamlined body, webbed feet, and are excellent swimmers and divers. They feed on fish and other aquatic prey and are known for their ability to stay underwater for several minutes.


  1. Redhead
  2. Ring-necked Duck
  3. Lesser Scaup
  4. Redhead

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