Dabbling or Puddle Ducks include the familiar Mallard.
Dabblers feed on or near the surface of the water. They are often observed with their head under the water and their tails sticking straight up, as they feed on underwater vegetation, snails or small crustaceans.
What you should know:
- Most species have a brightly colored speculum (a colorful area on the secondaries, best seen in flight).
- Birds in this group can leap straight into the air, they do not need a running start like most species of diving ducks.
- Many species in this group will hybridize with others. Mallards will cross with many other species, resulting in unusual color patters that are often observed in parks.
- Identification challenges: All of the female dabbling ducks are similar in appearance.
- Identification challenges: Males in Eclipse plumage loose the ability to fly for several weeks and resemble the female of the same species.
- Identification challenges: Most males in adult, breeding plumage are easy to identify. The exceptions are the Mottled Duck and American Black Duck, which both resemble a female Mallard.
Comparison of female Mallard, Mottled and American Black Duck