Have you ever heard of ducks in Oregon? Oregon is home to a wide variety of wild ducks, which can be found in any season. Ducks are an iconic part of the state’s natural landscape in terms of its beauty and wildlife. These majestic birds have been around for centuries and, as such, are deeply ingrained into the culture and history of Oregon. The diverse habitats across the state provide excellent opportunities for birdwatchers and duck enthusiasts to observe and enjoy these feathered creatures.
What’s a Dabbling Duck, Anyway? And a Diving Duck?
Dabbling ducks and diving ducks are two types of duck species that share many similarities but also some key differences. Ducks in both categories belong to the Anatidae family, which includes swans and geese. Dabbling ducks are a type of Duck found close to shorelines or inland wetlands.
They typically live in shallow waters, feeding on algae and aquatic plants by “dabbling” their bills into the water’s surface.
Diving ducks prefer deeper waters for feeding and tend to stay farther away from shorelines than dabbling ducks. This Duck feeds by submerging its bill into the water to capture its prey, such as small fish or invertebrates living underwater.
Both ducks have unique physical adaptations, such as webbed feet, that help them swim more efficiently through the water.
Ducks in Oregon
Oregon is one of the best places in America for people to observe ducks in their natural habitat. Its many lakes, rivers, and streams create an ideal environment for these aquatic birds. Ducks are found throughout the state, from its western coastline to the high desert areas east of the Cascades.
Oregon is home to various duck species; some migrate through Oregon, while others stay all year long.
Mallards, wood ducks, wigeons, and teals frequent Oregon’s coastal wetlands, while pintails and shovelers can be found in shallow ponds and marshes throughout the state. In addition, several rarer waterfowl species, like Cinnamon Teal or Harlequin Ducks, call Oregon home at times during the year.
American Wigeon (Dabbling Duck)
Length: 16.5 – 23.2 in (42 – 59 cm)
Weight: 19.1 – 46.9 oz (540 – 1330 g)
Wingspan: 33.1 in (84 cm)
The American Wigeon, also known as the Baldpate, is a medium-sized dabbling duck in much of North America. This species is well adapted to living in shallow wetlands and slow-moving streams and rivers near coasts, lakes, and ponds.
The American Wigeon has a distinctive appearance with its gray head and white crown patch. The colouration of the rest of its body is brown mottled with black and greenish-brown on its back. In flight, this species shows off bright white patches on its wings that stand out against its dark-coloured bodies.
Regarding diet, these ducks feed on aquatic vegetation like grasses or grains but are also known to eat insects like beetles and midges when available.
Barrow’s Goldeneye (Diving Duck)
Length: 16 – 20 in (41 – 51 cm)
Weight: 38.4 oz (1088 g)
Wingspan: 30 – 32 in (76 – 81 cm)
The Barrow’s goldeneye often referred to as the goldeneye, is a diving duck native to the Northern Hemisphere. It is easily recognized by its bright yellow eyes and bold black-and-white plumage. The species has two subspecies: the common goldeneye (Bucephala Clangula) and the Barrow’s goldeneye (Bucephala islandica).
The Barrow’s goldeneyes are slightly larger than their standard counterparts, with larger bills and more angular heads. They’re also distinctly darker in colouration; males have a black head with a white patch just above the bill, while females have an all-brown head with a light brown stripe running from their eyes down to their beaks.
Black Scoter (Diving Duck)
Length: 127 – 21 in (43 – 53 cm)
Weight: 387.4 oz (1088 g)
Wingspan: 30 – 35 in (76 – 89 cm)
The Black Scoter, a diving duck species, is a common sight on the Atlantic coast. It is easily identified by its distinctive black and white plumage and orange bill. The Black Scoter can be found from Alaska to Newfoundland but is most often seen in large flocks between Virginia and Labrador.
This species dives for food such as mussels, fish, eels, crustaceans, and aquatic insects. Although it nests near water in Canada or the northern United States, it will winter farther south along both coasts of the continent.
During the summer months, it feeds offshore during the day but comes ashore at night to roost in sheltered areas like estuaries or inland lakes. Its population has been slowly decreasing due to human-caused disturbances such as habitat destruction, competition with other waterfowl species, and hunting pressure.
Blue-Winged Teal Duck (Dabbling Duck)
Length: 15 – 17 in (38 – 43 cm)
Weight: 19.18 oz (544 g)
Wingspan: 23 -31 in (58 – 79 cm)
Blue-Winged Teal Duck (Anas Discors) is a dabbling duck that can be found across North America. It is one of the most common ducks in the United States and Canada, making it an easily identifiable species for birders. The Blue-Winged Teal Duck has a distinct blue patch on its wings and can be seen flying in small flocks during migration season.
They are omnivorous birds that enjoy eating aquatic vegetation, invertebrates, insects, and other small animals.
The breeding habitat of the Blue-Winged Teal Duck includes marshes and shallow ponds in open areas like prairies, meadows, and wetlands. During the breeding season, they use their distinctive calls to attract mates, usually accompanied by courtship displays involving head bobbing and wing flapping.
Bufflehead (Diving Duck)
Length: 13 – 16 in (33 – 41 cm)
Weight: 21.16 oz (600 g)
Wingspan: 20 – 24 in (51-61 cm)
The Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola) is a diving duck in North America. They have a unique black and white plumage and are recognizable by their large heads. They inhabit freshwater and coastal wetlands when they breed and raise their young during the summer.
In winter, the Bufflehead migrates to warmer climates along the Pacific Coast of North America, as far south as Mexico. The males are particularly striking, with a glossy green head with a prominent white patch on either side. Females tend to be browner overall, with paler cheeks and crowns than males.
These small ducks feed mainly on aquatic insects like snails, crustaceans, and molluscs. However, they also eat plant material, including seeds from shoreline plants.
Canvasback (Diving Duck)
Length: 19 – 24 in (48 – 61 cm)
Weight: 58.48 oz (1657 g)
Wingspan: 28 – 36 in (71 – 91 cm)
The Canvasback (Aythya valisineria) is a large diving duck that inhabits wetlands across the United States. In the fall, they migrate to coastal locations along both the Atlantic and Pacific seaboard. This species gets its name from its distinctive chestnut-coloured head and white back, which resembles a canvas sail. The Canvasback feeds on aquatic roots and tubers such as wild celery, pondweed, and rice.
They can be seen bobbing their heads in search of food while swimming underwater.
These birds are highly social creatures and may form flocks of several hundred individuals during the migration or at rest stops along their route. During the breeding season, male Canvasbacks develop colourful plumage, including a sky-blue bill with black spots near the tip to attract mates.
Cinnamon Teal Duck
Length: 14- 17 in (36 – 43 cm)
Weight: 16.4 oz (465 g)
Wingspan: 24 – 30 in (61 -76 cm)
The Cinnamon Teal Duck (Spatula cyanoptera) is a small dabbling duck found in wetlands and ponds from the western United States to northern Argentina. This species has a bright chestnut-coloured head, neck, and breast, a blue wing patch, and reddish legs. These ducks are usually seen in large flocks near freshwater marshes or grassy ponds.
Cinnamon Teal Ducks feed primarily on aquatic plants such as algae, but they also eat insects, snails, and sometimes fish. They have been known to dive for food but usually prefer to feed close to the surface of shallow water. During the breeding season, they display territorial behaviour towards other ducks by chasing them off their territory with loud quacks and aggressive swimming actions.
Common Merganser (Diving Duck)
Length: 22 – 27 in (56 – 69 cm)
Weight: 60.8 oz (1723 g)
Wingspan: 31 – 37 in (79 – 94 cm)
The Common Merganser, also known as the Goosander or Sawbill, is a type of diving duck found throughout the Northern Hemisphere. These ducks are among the most easily recognizable waterfowl due to their distinctive bright white plumage and dramatic bill shape.
While they typically inhabit areas near large rivers and lakes, they are also known to be seen along coastal areas in search of food.
Adult female Common Merganser has a greyish-brown head with a reddish crest, while males have a green-black head with a double ridge that extends down their neck. These ducks prefer to feed on fish that can often be found swimming in deeper waters; however, they will occasionally forage for aquatic invertebrates or small amphibians along shorelines and wetlands. The long serrated bill helps them locate prey even in murky waters.
Length: 18 – 20 in (46 – 51 cm)
Weight: 35.27 oz (1000 g)
Wingspan: 30 – 32 (76 – 81 cm)
The Eurasian Wigeon is an attractive, medium-sized dabbling duck found in many parts of the world. It’s also known as the Baldpate or Common Wigeon. This duck species has a wide range and is a very hardy bird that often lives in harsh environments.
This species lives in wetlands throughout Europe and Asia and ain s North America during migration periods. The male Eurasian Wigeon has a chestnut head with green feathers at the back and sides of its neck, while its breast and sides are grey-brownish.
Its belly is white with some black patterning near its tail feathers. Females are drabber than males but have a similar body shape to their male counterparts.
Gadwall Ducks in Oregon
Length: 19 – 23 in (48 – 58 cm)
Weight: 35.27 oz (1000 g)
Wingspan: 31 – 36 in (79 – 91 cm
Gadwall (AnaStreperara) is a dabbling duck found in North America, Europe, and Asia. This species lives along the edges of lakes and ponds, in wetlands, and near shallow marshes. Their diet consists mainly of grasses, sedges, and aquatic weeds that are foraged from the water’s surface or below.
This species can easily be identified by its large white patch on its rump and slate grey plumage on its backside. The male has a chestnut head with an orange bill, while the female has brownish-grey feathers on her head and neck. During the breeding season, males will create wide displays involving raising their feathers, creating an impressive silhouette against the sky.
Greater Scaup (Diving Duck)
Length: 15.3 – 22.1 in (39 – 56 cm)
Weight: 25.6 – 48.0 oz (726 – 1360 g)
Wingspan: 28.4 – 31.1 in (72 – 79 cm
The Greater Scaup is a diving duck species that can be found in both freshwater and saltwater habitats all around the world. First identified by Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus in 1758, this resilient bird has a wide range of distribution, which includes parts of Europe, Asia, North America, and even Australia.
With its characteristic black head and white neck ring, the Greater Scaup is an easily recognizable species, measuring an average length of 45 to 63 centimetres (18-25 inches) with a wingspan of roughly 80 cm (31 inches). The males are easily distinguished from females due to their bright blue bills compared to the duller green accounts of female birds.
Green-Winged Teal Duck (Dabbling Duck)
Length: 12.2 – 15.3 in (31 – 39 cm)
Weight: 4.9 – 17.6 oz (140 – 500 g)
Wingspan: 20.5 – 23.2 in (52 – 59 cm)
The Green-Winged Teal Duck is a dabbling duck that has become increasingly popular among birdwatchers and ducks enthusiasts. It is well known for its striking plumage, with a chocolate brown head contrasting against the sea-green wings and a white stripe running down its back. The Green-Winged Teal Duck is also commonly referred to as a ‘gadwall’ due to its size, shape, and colouration resembling that of the European Wigeon.
These ducks are found in fresh and saltwater wetlands throughout North America, Eurasia, and the Caribbean Islands. They feed primarily on plant matter such as seeds, grains, aquatic vegetation, and insects in shallow waters of lakes or streams.
Harlequin (Diving Duck)
Length: 15 – 21 in (38 – 53 cm)
Weight: 24 oz (680 g)
Wingspan: 26 – 28 in (66 – 71 cm)
Harlequin Ducks are unique diving ducks in Oregon. This medium-sized bird is easily identified by its striking black, grey, white, and chestnut feathers. The males have bright orange patches on their heads and sides, which are used to attract mates during the breeding season. Scientists believe that the Harlequin Duck is one of the oldest living ducks, with fossil records showing they’ve been around since prehistoric times.
These aquatic birds are typically found near fast-moving rivers or streams as they feed mainly on insect larvae, molluscs, and crustaceans that cling to rocky surfaces underwater. They also love to eat small fish and aquatic plants in colder climates such as Alaska, Northern Canada, and Scandinavia. When threatened, these ducks will dive deep below water for protection from predators or hide from humans.
Hooded Merganser (Diving Duck)
Length: 16 – 19 in (41 – 48 cm)
Weight: 32.09 oz (909 g)
Wingspan: 24 – 26 in (61 – 66 cm)
The Hooded Merganser is a fascinating diving duck found across North America. It is the only species of Merganser native to this continent, and it can be recognized by its unique black-hooded head and white tip tail feathers. This particular bird has adapted to many habitats, from shallow lakes to rivers, creeks, and marshes.
The male hooded mergansers are especially striking in appearance. They have a distinctive black hood that starts at the bill and extends down to the nape of their neck.
Their eyes are bright red, giving them an intense look that’s rarely seen in other waterfowl species. The males also have white patches on their wings, which can easily be spotted when they fly or float on the water’s surface.
Lesser Scaup (Diving Duck)-Ducks in Oregon
Length: 15 – 18 in (38 – 49 cm)
Weight: 40.77 oz (1155 g)
Wingspan: 24 – 33 in (61 – 84 cm)
The Lesser Scaup, also known as the Bluebill, is a small diving duck belonging to the Anatidae family. Native to North America and Eurasia, these ducks are found in freshwater wetlands such as ponds, lakes, marshes, and rivers. Their scientific name is Aythya affinis, and they have an outstanding slate-blue bill which gives them their other common name.
These birds feed mainly on invertebrates like molluscs, crustaceans, and insects that they find by dabbling or diving underwater. They tend to fly low over the water in flocks of up to 50 individuals at a time before landing on or nearby the surface of the water. In winter, they often form large feeding groups of several hundred ducks.
Long-Tailed Duck (Diving Duck)
Length: 15 – 22 in (38 – 56 cm)
Weight: 31.74 oz (900 g)
Wingspan: 26 – 31 in (66 – 79 cm)
The Long-Tailed Duck, also known as Oldsquaw, is a diving duck found in many parts of the world. A medium-sized bird with a long tail and short wings, it has a range that extends from Northern Europe to Alaska and across North America.
This duck species is well adapted for freezing climates such as northern Canada and Greenland, where it breeds during summer. The breeding plumage of the Long-Tailed Duck is black on top with white undersides. During winter, the ducks moult into their drab grey plumage.
Long-Tailed Ducks are adept swimmers who dive up to 25 feet deep in search of food, such as crustaceans, molluscs, and aquatic invertebrates, which make up most of their diet.
Mallard (Dabbling Duck)
Length: 19.7 – 25.6 in (50 – 65 cm)
Weight: 35.3 – 45.9 oz (1000 – 1300 g)
Wingspan: 32.3 – 37.4 in (82 – 95 cm)
The Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) is a dabbling Duck native to most parts of the Northern Hemisphere. This iconic waterfowl can be identified by its distinctive green head, yellow bill, and white neck ring. They are easily recognized by their loud quacks, which they use to communicate.
Male mallards are typically brightly coloured, while females are more toned-down in colouration.
Mallards inhabit wetlands such as lakes, ponds, marshes, and slow rivers, feeding on aquatic plants and invertebrates like snails and insects. They also feed on grains such as corn or wheat when available near their habitats. During the summer, these ducks form large flocks that migrate northward for breeding purposes.
Northern Pintail (Dabbling Duck)
Length: 20 – 26 in (51 – 66 cm)
Weight: 36.33 oz (1030 g)
Wingspan: 29 – 35 in (74 – 89 cm)
The Northern Pintail (Anas acuta) is a dabbling duck species that can be found inhabiting wetlands, marshes, and shallow ponds in the northern hemisphere. As the name implies, these birds have long, pointed tails, making them easily identifiable among other duck species.
Males are characterized by their prominent chocolate-brown heads with a white stripe along the neck, while females are distinguished by their greyish-brown colouration and lack of tail feathers.
These ducks primarily feed on small invertebrates such as aquatic insects, molluscs, worms, and crustaceans which they obtain from shallow areas of water or mudflats. In addition to these staples, they will consume small amounts of vegetation, such as grasses and sedges, for additional nourishment.
Northern Shoveler (Dabbling Duck)
Length: 17.3 – 20.1 in (44 – 51 cm)
Weight: 14.1 – 28.9 oz (400 – 820 g)
Wingspan: 27.2 – 33.1 in (69 – 84 cm)
The Northern Shoveler, or Anas clypeata, belongs to the dabbling duck family and is a large, distinctive waterfowl. It is most commonly identified by its long bill that widens into a spoon-like shape at the tip. The Northern Shoveler has a blue-green head and neck with white feathers on its chest and abdomen.
Its wings are brownish orange with black specks and white stripes near the tips of the branches. During breeding, males have bright yellow eyes, while females have hazel eyes. This duck specieDuck found in various aquatic environments such as wetlands, shallow ponds, estuaries, and marshes.
They feed mainly on aquatic plants but consume small invertebrates such as dragonfly larvae and aquatic insects, which they filter through their bill while swimming or dabbling in shallow waters.
Red-Breasted Merganser (Diving Duck)
Length: 16 – 26 in (41 – 66 cm)
Weight: 47.61 oz (1349 g)
Wingspan: 31 – 35 in (79 – 89 cm)
The Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator) is a striking diving duck that inhabits fresh and saltwater across the Northern Hemisphere. This ducDuck is recognizable for its glossy, chestnut brown head and body, white collar, and silvery grey wings.
Their long beaks are bright orange with black tips. They can be found in large flocks near lakes, ponds, rivers, or even along coastal areas of the Atlantic Ocean during their winter migration.
Red-breasted Mergansers use their strong webbed feet to propel them through the water while they search for food like small fish and aquatic insects such as dragonfly larvae.
To find their prey, they dive underwater, where they can stay submerged for up to 30 seconds at a time, using their unique pointed tails as rudders to help guide them around obstacles.
Redhead (Diving Duck)
Length: 18 -22 in (46 – 56 cm)
Weight: 43.03 oz (1219 g)
Wingspan: 29 – 35 in (74 – 89 cm)
The redhead (Aythya americana) is a diving duck native to North America. This striking waterfowl is best known for its reddish-brown head and pale grey body. It breeds across much of the continent during summer, from northern Canada down to many parts of the United States. Redheads are closely related to canvasbacks, scaups, and other ducks within the genus Aythya.
During migration season, redheads are often found in large flocks along coastal areas such as bays, estuaries, and marshes, where they feed on underwater vegetation like pondweed and wild celery. While some may migrate further south each winter, most remain near their breeding grounds throughout the year, given access to suitable food sources.
Ring-Necked Duck (Diving Duck)
Length: 14 – 18 in (36 – 46 cm)
Weight: 32.09 oz (909 g)
Wingspan: 24 – 30 in (61 – 76 cm)
The Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collars) is a famous diving duck found throughout North America. This medium-sized waterfowl, characterized by its black and white neck ring and peaked head, is a common sight in ponds, lakes, marshes, and wetlands.
It can dive underwater for food, staying submerged for up to 45 seconds. Its diet consists mainly of aquatic insects and vegetation found at the bottom of its habitat.
In breeding season, males display striking features such as glossy green heads and chestnut sides.
Females are more muted in colouration but still have distinctive black-and-white neck rings.
Both sexes show this feature year-round, making it easy to identify them in the wild or when observing through binoculars or spotting scopes.
Ruddy Duck (Diving Duck)
Length: 14 – 16 in (35.56 – 40.64 cm)
Weight: 28.04 oz (795 g)
Wingspan: 21 – 24 in (53 – 61 cm)
The Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis) is a small, migratory diving duck inhabiting much of North America, Europe, and Central and South America. It is easily recognized by its striking rusty-red head, white cheeks, and blue bill. The species prefers freshwater ponds, streams, and marshes, feeding on aquatic vegetation, frogs, insects, and crustaceans.
During the breeding season, males give off a distinctive “whu-ick” call to attract mates while the females emit a quiet hooting sound. The displays of courting males are very elaborate, with head pumping common in courtship behaviour. Nesting occurs in marshy areas near water or on the dry ground lined with grasses or mosses; usually, 2-5 eggs are laid at once, depending on the female’s age.
Surf Scoter (Diving Duck)
Length: 17 – 21 in (43 – 53 cm)
Weight: 35.27 oz (1000 g)
Wingspan: 30 – 36 in (76 – 91 cm)
The Surf Scoter is a diving duck native to much of the North American continent. These birds are generally found in shallow coastal waters, especially during the breeding season in the spring and summer.
They have black heads with white patches at the base of their bills and white on their cheeks and necks. This duck species aDuckhas a unique yellow-orange statement that helps them stand out from other ducks around them.
Surf Scoters can be seen diving underwater to search for food, such as molluscs, crustaceans, and aquatic insects. They eat these prey items by using their serrated bills to break shells open or grab hold of prey items directly on the seafloor or riverbeds near shorelines. In addition to these food sources, they may also feed on small fish from time to time when available.
White-Winged Scoter (Diving Duck)
Length: 19 – 24 in (48 – 61 cm)
Weight: 62.4 oz (1768 g)
Wingspan: 33 – 41 in (84 – 104 cm)
White-Winged Scoter (Melanitta fusca) is a large sea duck found in the northern parts of North America and Eurasia. It is usually seen near large bodies of water such as lakes, rivers, and coastal waterways. The name “scoter” comes from the Old Norse word skotthvalr, meaning “shooting whale” because of its quick swimming speed.
The adult male scoter has black plumage with a white patch on his wings; males also have an orange bill with yellowish eyes. Females are slightly duller in colouration but still have distinctive white patches on their wings. Both sexes can measure up to 21 inches and weigh up to 3 pounds.
Wood Duck (Dabbling Duck)
Length: 18.5 – 21.3 in (47 – 54 cm)
Weight: 16.0 – 30.4 oz (454 – 862 g)
Wingspan: 26.0 – 28.7 in (66 – 73 cm)
wood duck (Aix sponsa) is a dabbling duck in North America, Central America, and South America. These ducks are known for their unique and striking appearance, with males having bright multicoloured feathers that make them one of the most distinctive waterfowls in the world.
The wood duck can be found mainly near rivers, lakes, ponds, and wetlands but also frequents wooded swamps and coves.
Wood duck has a wide range of diets consisting primarily of aquatic vegetation and some insects. They feed mainly by dabbling at the surface or upending to reach food items on the bottom. During the breeding season, they are monogamous breeders, laying an average of 8-14 eggs which hatch within 28-32 days after being incubated by the female.
Learning to Spot Ducks in Oregon
Oregon is an excellent place for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. One of the most beloved animals in the state is ducks, which can be seen in many areas around Oregon. Learning to spot ducks in this state can be both fun and educational, as well as offer an opportunity to appreciate the beautiful wildlife that calls Oregon home.
To begin learning how to spot ducks, it helps to research common duck species found in the state. Ducks tend to flock near bodies of water such as lakes, rivers, ponds, marshes, and more. Knowing where these bodies of water are located is critical to finding ducks in their natural habitat.
It’s also important to remember that different species prefer different habitats, so understanding which type of environment each species prefers is essential for successful duck spotting.