20 Ducks in Tennessee (ID + Season Best Guide)


Tennessee is home to various wildlife, including numerous species of ducks. These ducks provide a unique ecological niche in the state and are an important part of the food chain. Ducks can be found in habitats ranging from wetlands to rivers and streams. They are commonly seen in urban areas such as parks, golf courses, and backyards. This article will explore the types of ducks in Tennessee and how they contribute to its environment.

Table of Contents

Mallard Ducks in Tennessee

Mallard Ducks in Tennessee
Scientific NameAnas platyrhynchos
Length21 – 25 in
Weight
35– 45 oz (1000 – 1300 g)
Wingspan32 – 37in (82 – 95 cm

The mallards are a common species of ducks in Tennessee and are easily recognizable with their bright green head and chestnut brown feathers. They are the most frequently seen waterfowl, particularly during the spring and summer. Tennespringesidents can expect to see Mallards populating lakes, ponds, rivers, and wetlands from April to October each year.

Mallards often fly in large flocks or families that include ducks of different ages or sizes. They have a distinctive call that can be heard as they approach their chosen landing area near the water’s edge. As soon as they land, they start foraging for food such as insects, worms, seeds, and aquatic vegetation. Although these ducks may appear shy, they are curious birds who readily approach people if food is offered.

Wood Ducks

wood Ducks in Tennessee

Scientific NameAix sponsa
Length18 – 21 inch
Weight16.0 – 30.4 oz
Wingspan26 – 28 inch

Wood Ducks are a captivating species of waterfowl native to North America. With their vibrant plumage and inquisitive nature, these ducks remain popular in many wetlands and ponds throughout the country. In Tennessee, Wood Ducks appear during certain times of the year.

Wood Ducks typically migrate southward as winter approaches and return north when spring arrives. During this time, they may be spotted swimming in ponds or along springs in Tennessee. They can also sometimes be seen perched on tree branches near swampy areas or logs near the shoreline.

Gadwalls Ducks in Tennessee

Gadwalls Ducks in Tennessee
Scientific NameMarecastrepera
Length20 – 21 inch
Weight35.27 oz
Wingspan32 – 35 inch

The Gadwall is a species of duck that can be found in Tennessee during seasonal migrations. It’s a medium-sized dabbling duck with white under-tail coverts and a yellow bill. From late October to December, these ducks can be seen gracing the ponds, rivers, and wetlands of Tennessee with their presence.

Gadwalls prefer to feed on aquatic plant material such as seeds and roots found at the bottom of shallow water habitats. They also eat small insects and other invertebrates for added sustenance. During their time in Tennessee, it’s not uncommon to see them flying around in large flocks or swimming together in open waters.

These ducks in Tennessee are easily distinguished by their grey-brown body coloration, blackish tail feathers, white under-tail coverts, and yellow bill.

Blue-Winged Teal

 Blue-Winged Teal Ducks in Tennessee
Scientific NameSpatula discors
Length14 – 17 inches (35 – 43 cm)
Weight19.2 oz (545 g
Wingspan22 -26 inches

The blue-winged teals are a species of small dabbling ducks in Tennessee. They can be seen during the spring and fall migration seasons. This type of duck is easily identified by its unique coloring, with a white breast, chestnut sides, and a unique blue stripe above the wings. The blue-winged teal typically prefers shallow marshes and ponds for breeding, making them an ideal sighting for birdwatchers across the state.

These ducks in Tennessee can usually be seen between April and May on their way to their northern breeding grounds. During this time, they often stop over in wetlands or along the Mississippi River while they fill up on energy reserves before continuing their journey northward. By early fall, they return to Tennessee between September and October as they head south to wintering grounds further south along the Gulf Coast.

Northern Shovelers

Northern Shovelers

Scientific NameSpatula clypeata
Length17 – 20 inches (43 – 50 cm)
Weight14 – 28.8 oz (400 – 820 g)
Wingspan27 – 33 inches (68 – 83 cm)

Northern Shovelers are a spectacular species of duck seen throughout much of the United States, including Tennessee. This species is most commonly seen during the winter months of November through March, when they tend to migrate southward. During this season, they flock to wetlands and marshes, where they can find ample food sources, such as aquatic insects and plant matter.

The Northern Shoveler is easily recognizable by its distinctive bill shape that resembles a shovel, which helps it scoop up food from the water’s surface. The male has light brown feathers above and bright green feathers below, while the female is mostly mottled brown with a large white patch on her face. Both sexes have an iridescent blue patch on their wings that stands out in flight.

Green-Winged Teal

Green-Winged Teal- ducks in Tennessee

Scientific NameAnascrecca
Length12.1 – 15.2 in (31 – 39 cm)
Weight4.8 – 17.5 oz (140 – 500 g)
Wingspan20.4 – 23.1 in (52 – 59 cm)


Every spring, the Green-Winged Teal flock to Tennessee with their characteristic bright green markings that make them stand out in a crowd. This smashing typically ranges from 12-17 inches and is one of North America’s most common species of ducks.

Green-winged teal usually arrives in Tennessee around March and remains until late October or early November. During the peak season, usually mid-April through mid-May, thousands of these birds migrate into the state for breeding purposes.

These birds prefer shallow wetlands on large bodies of water, such as reservoirs, ponds, and lakes, where they forage for food, including aquatic insects, crustaceans, fish, and other small creatures. They also feed on grasses, grains, and seeds from plants such as bulrushes and smartweeds.

American Wigeon

American Wigeon
Scientific NameMarecaamericana
Length16.4 – 23.1 in (42 – 59 cm)
Weight19.2 – 46.9 oz (541 – 1330 g)
Wingspan33inch (83 cm)


American wigons are ducks native to North America. They are found in many areas, including Tennessee, where they appear in spring and winter. The American Wigeon is a medium-sized duck with a grayish-brown head, neck, and breast, with white stripes along its side and a large white patch on its forewing. During their seasonal migration through Tennessee, it’s common to see these ducks in wetlands and open lakes.

During the winter season, American Wigeons can be spotted in large flocks across Tennessee. Their diet consists mainly of aquatic vegetation, such as algae and grasses that grow near shallow wetlands or lakesides.

Northern Pintail

Northern Pintail ducks in Tennessee
Scientific NameAnasacuta
Length20 – 26 in (51 – 66 cm)
Weight36.33 oz (1030 g)
Wingspan29 – 35 in (74 – 89 cm)


The Northern Pintail is a beautiful species of duck that makes its seasonal appearance in Tennessee yearly. The Northern Pintail is identified by its long, brown neck and white chest and flanks; it also has a distinctive tail that fans out into two points. This elegant species can typically be found in the wetlands of Tennessee during the winter months, usually between October and December.

The males often fly in large flocks as they migrate south for the winter, while females travel with smaller groups or even alone. Once they arrive in Tennessee, they often congregate around ponds, lakes, rivers, and marshes, where their diet consists mainly of aquatic vegetation like pondweeds, wild celery, and grasses.

American Black Ducks

American Black Ducks in Tennessee
Scientific NameAnasrubripes
Length19 – 23 in (48 – 58 cm)
Weight49.5 oz (1406 g)
Wingspan33 – 36 in (84 – 91 cm)


These ducks can be found throughout Tennessee, but sightings are most common along rivers, wetlands, and estuaries, where they feed on aquatic invertebrates like shrimp and mollusks. In addition to these food sources, American Black Ducks eat grasses and plant seeds, which helps them maintain energy as they travel through the region. The birds typically appear from late November until early May before heading back north for the summer nesting season.

Buffleheads Ducks in Tennessee

Buffleheads Ducks in Tennessee
Scientific NameBucephalaalbeola
Length13 – 16 inches (33 – 40 cm)
Weight21.15 oz (600 g)
Wingspan20 – 23 inches (51-61 cm)

Buffleheads, also known as Bufflehead ducks, are a small sea duck species. Every year, Buffleheads migrate from their breeding grounds in Northern Canada and Alaska to wintering areas in the southern United States and Mexico. These dapper little birds appear in Tennessee during late fall and early winter.

The male Bufflehead is distinguished by its glossy green-black head with white patches on either side of its face. Females have a brown head with white patches around the eyes and a mottled grayish-brown body. When they migrate to Tennessee, they form large flocks that usually land on inland lakes or ponds away from the ocean coastlines.

Ring-Necked Ducks

Ring-Necked Ducks

Scientific NameAythyacollaris
Length14 – 18 in (36 – 46 cm)
Weight32.09 oz (909 g)
Wingspan24 – 30 in (61 – 76 cm)


Ring-necked ducks are a migratory species throughout much of North America, including Tennessee. These medium-sized waterfowl appear in their greatest numbers during the fall and winter seasons. From October to April, these ducks can be spotted at numerous locations along the Mississippi River and at many lakes and ponds across the state that provide suitable habitats for them.

Ring-necked ducks have distinctive coloring with a glossy green head and neck and a white ring encircling their bill. The body is mostly brown and black, with white patches around its sides. During the autumn months, they may occasionally gather in large flocks while they look for food, typically consisting of underwater plants such as sedges, pondweeds, and grasses that they can filter out from the mud.

Lesser Scaup

lesser scaup ducks in Tennessee
Scientific NameAythyaaffinis
Length15 – 18 in (38 – 49 cm)
Weight40.74 oz (1154 g)
Wingspan24 – 33 in (61– 84 cm)


The Lesser Scaup is a common duck species known for its beautiful plumage and interesting waterfowl behavior. It appears in Tennessee during the fall and winter seasons as it migrates from cooler northern climates to warmer southern ones.

Each year, flocks of Lesser Scaups appear on bodies of water throughout Tennessee starting in November and staying through early March. They congregate on lakes, ponds, marshes, estuaries, and other wetlands, feeding on aquatic plants, invertebrates, and seeds. During their stay in Tennessee, these ducks will socialize with other bird species, including the Common Goldeneye and Bufflehead.

As one of North America’s most populous duck species, a sighting of the Lesser Scaup is an exciting opportunity for outdoor lovers everywhere!

Ruddy Ducks

Ruddy Ducks in Tennessee

Scientific NameOxyurajamaicensis
Length14 – 16 in (35.56 – 40.64 cm)
Weight 28.06 oz (795 g)
Wingspan21 – 24 in (53 – 61 cm)


The Ruddy Duck, also known as Oxyurajamaicensis, is a duck species found in Tennessee during certain times of the year. This species is known for its distinctive reddish coloring and black cap, which makes it easily recognizable among other waterfowl. Ruddy Ducks are especially common in parts of the United States between late spring and early fall. In Tennessee, they typically appear towards the end of April or the beginning of May, with peak numbers observed in July and August.

In terms of population size, this species is considered abundant within its North American spring. They prefer freshwater habitats like marshes and ponds with incredible aquatic vegetation growth. They will feed on small invertebrates like insects, crustaceans, mollusks, fish eggs, and aquatic plants.

Redheads Ducks in Tennessee

Redheads Ducks in Tennessee

Scientific NameAythyaamericana
Length18 -22 in (46 – 56 cm)
Weight43.03 oz (1219 g)
Wingspan29 – 35 in (74 – 89 cm)


Redheads are quite the sight to behold in Tennessee! As temperatures rise and winter melts away, redheaded residents of the Volunteer State can be seen enjoying the warmth of spring. Whether their hair is auburn, copper, or strawberry blonde, it’s sure to draw attention as they go about their day.

Although redheads appear year-round in Tennessee, the spring season offers an extra special opportunity for them to show their unique hair color. With warmer weather and longer days, they can often be spotted wearing bright colors and bold patterns accentuating their locks. People with ginger hair also enjoy taking outdoor activities this time of year – from hikes and bike rides to camping at local parks.

Canvasbacks Ducks

canvasbacks ducks in Tennessee

Scientific NameAythyavalisineria
Length19 – 24 in (48 – 61 cm)
Weight 58.48 oz (1657 g)
Wingspan28 – 36 in (71 – 91 cm)


Canvasbacks are majestic waterfowl that seasonally appear as beautiful ducks in Tennessee. These birds boast long, pointy bills and deep chestnut-red heads. Their backs have a glossy black hue that gives way to white bellies with black speckles for added texture. Canvasbacks are some of the largest ducks in North America. They are often seen bobbing on the surface of shallow lakes or scouring the shoreline during their seasonal appearance in Tennessee.

Generally, Canvasbacks arrive in early October and stay until late April or May before they migrate elsewhere to breed. They can be spotted along rivers, creeks, marshes, ponds, and lake edges. They feed primarily on aquatic vegetation like tubers and roots, particularly wild celery, which is abundant in Tennessee’s wetlands.

Greater Scaup

Greater Scaup

Scientific NameAythyamarila
Length15.3 – 22.1 in (39 – 56 cm)
Weight25.6 – 48.0 oz (726 – 1360 g)
Wingspan28.4 – 31.1 in (72 – 79 cm)


The Greater Scaup is a species of dabbling ducks in Tennessee, seen throughout the year. In the springtime, these birds can be seen migrating to the state from wintering grounds in Central and Northern South America. During this time, they use wetlands and ponds for nesting and breeding.

Though they have a presence year-round in Tennessee, their season of appearance peaks between October and April; during this time frame, hundreds of Greater Scaup flock to wetland areas across the state, where they feed on aquatic invertebrates. The sight of so many ducks together is quite spectacular! These birds provide hours of enjoyment for bird watchers and nature lovers alike as they glide across lakes or nestle into coves along riversides. These ducks are also found in Oregon.

Hooded Merganser

Hooded Merganser
Scientific NameLophodytescucullatus
Length16 – 19 in (41 – 48 cm)
Weight32.09 oz (909 g)
Wingspan24 – 26 in (61 – 66 cm)


The Hooded Merganser, one of the most beautiful ducks in North America, is a species that migrates to Tennessee during the Fall and Winter months. These unique waterfowl have a black hood, gray body, and white crest on their heads that stand out against their surroundings. When they arrive in Tennessee after their long journey south, they can be found around lakes and rivers, where they feed on fish and aquatic insects.

They are often spotted alone or in small groups of two or three individuals rather than in large flocks like other duck species. During breeding season from late February through May, these shy waterfowl will form pairs and nest near bodies of water but remain hidden among vegetation for protection from predators.

Red-Breasted Merganser

Red-Breasted Merganser

Scientific NameMergusserrator
Length16 – 26 in (41 – 66 cm)
Weight47.61 oz (1349 g)
Wingspan31 – 35 in (79 – 89 cm)

The Red-Breasted Merganser is a species of ducks in Tennessee. These ducks usually appear in the state during the late fall season, making them a perfect seasonal addition to any outdoor lover’s list of wildlife. The males of this species are distinguishable by their red heads, and both sexes have wide white collars and striking black back feathers. They prefer to live near bodies of water such as rivers, lakes, and estuaries, where they can hunt for fish, insects, and snails.

These birds are known for their unique diving behavior; they orient themselves vertically before plunging into the water in search of food. This makes them particularly exciting animals to observe while on nature walks throughout Tennessee during the late fall season!

Common Goldeneye

Common Goldeneye ducks in Tennessee
Scientific NameBucephalaclangula
Length15.6 – 20.00 in (40 – 50 cm)
Weight 21.1 – 45.7 oz (600 – 1300 g)
Wingspan30.2 – 32.6 in (77 – 82 cm)


The Common Goldeneye is a small, colorful duck that appears in Tennessee during winter. It has distinctive white markings on its head and a black-and-white body. This bird species is often seen in large flocks in the state’s wetlands, lakes, rivers, and reservoirs from October to March. The Common Goldeneye feeds mainly on aquatic invertebrates such as snails, mussels, and crayfish.

In Tennessee, the Common Goldeneye prefers shallow bodies of water with abundant vegetation where they can find shelter from predators. During the winter, it will also congregate around artificial structures like docks or bridges for protection. The birds are highly social animals that form close bonds with members of their flock and are known to perform acrobatic courtship displays during mating season.

Common Merganser

Common Merganser

Scientific NameMergus merganser
Length22 – 26 inches (56 – 69 cm)
Weight60.7 oz (1722 g)
Wingspan31 – 36 inches (79 – 94 cm


The Common Merganser is a large and striking waterfowl species of ducks in Tennessee. It is easily identified by its bold white and green-black plumage and its long thin beak. In Tennessee, the Common Merganser can be seen in abundance during their breeding season. This typically occurs from late February to early May when the birds arrive from their winter grounds in southern states such as Florida and Texas.

During this period, pairs of these majestic ducks can be seen along rivers, streams, lakes, and reservoirs throughout Tennessee, performing courtship behaviors such as preening each other’s frequent Tennessee waters in unison. The males also use their bright white heads to attract potential mates while indulging in noisy overhead display flights.