Pennsylvania Ducks: Top 20 Species

Pennsylvania has much wildlife, but none are more iconic than the state’s ducks. Pennsylvania’s wetlands and waterways are teeming with these beloved birds, from the majestic mallard to the elusive wood duck. Whether you’re an avid birder or appreciate the beauty of nature, there’s no denying that Pennsylvania’s ducks are a sight worth seeing.

One of the best places to spot Pennsylvania ducks is at one of the state’s many wildlife refuges. These protected areas provide vital habitats for various waterfowl species, including ducks. At places like Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area and Presque Isle State Park, visitors can observe these birds in their natural habitats and learn about their behaviors and habits.

Pennsylvania Ducks:

Pennsylvania offers a wide range of habitats that attracts various species of ducks. These waterfowl are found all over the state, from large lakes to small ponds. Twenty different types of ducks can be spotted in Pennsylvania, ranging from ordinary mallards to rare harlequin ducks.


Pennsylvania Ducks

Mallard ducks are common in Pennsylvania, particularly during spring and fall migration seasons. They are a species of duck that can be easily recognized by their distinctive green head, white neck ring, and chestnut-colored breast. Mallards are adaptable birds that can be found in a variety of habitats, from urban parks to rural wetlands.

In Pennsylvania, mallard ducks typically nest near freshwater sources such as ponds, lakes, and rivers. The female mallard lays an average of 8-13 eggs, and both parents take turns incubating the eggs for about 28 days. Once hatched, the ducklings will stay with their parents for several weeks until they can fly independently.

While mallard ducks are not considered endangered or threatened in Pennsylvania or elsewhere in North America, there is still concern about their population due to habitat loss and hunting pressures.


Scientific NameAnasPlatyrhynchos
Length19.7 – 25.6 in (50 – 65 cm)
Weight35.3 – 45.9 oz (1000 – 1300 g)
Wingspan32.3 – 37.4 in (82 – 95 cm)

Wood Ducks:

Pennsylvania Ducks

Wood Ducks are one of the most colorful and unique waterfowl in Pennsylvania. These birds are known for their vibrant plumage, a combination of iridescent green, blue, and purple shades on their head and wings. The male Wood Ducks have distinctive red eyes and bills that stand out against their dark feathers. As for females, they have a more subtle appearance with brownish-gray feathers.

In Pennsylvania, Wood Ducks can be found in wetlands such as ponds, marshes, swamps, or along slow-moving streams. They prefer wooded habitats adjacent to these wetlands where they can nest in tree cavities or boxes provided by conservation organizations like the Audubon Society. They are often called “tree ducks” due to their nesting habits.


Scientific NameAix Sponsa
Length18.5 – 21.3 in (47 – 54 cm)
Weight16.0 – 30.4 oz (454 – 862 g)
Wingspan26.0 – 28.7 in (66 – 73 cm)

American Black Ducks:

Pennsylvania Ducks

American Black Ducks are one of Pennsylvania’s most unique waterfowl species. They belong to the family of dabbling ducks and are closely related to mallards. These birds are known for their distinctive plumage, which consists of a dark brown body with a purplish-blue patch on their wings.

The American Black Duck is usually found in freshwater wetlands, ponds, and streams across Pennsylvania. Their diet mainly consists of aquatic plants, invertebrates, and small fish. These birds also play an essential role in maintaining the ecosystem by dispersing seeds and controlling insect populations.

Despite being a relatively common species across North America, American Black Ducks face several threats, such as habitat loss due to development and pollution. The decline in their population has led to conservation efforts that include the protection of critical habitats, restoration projects aimed at improving water quality and hunting regulations set by state authorities.


Scientific NameAnasRubripes
Length19 – 23 in (48 – 58 cm)
Weight49.6 oz (1406 g)
Wingspan33 – 36 in (84 – 91 cm)

Green-Winged Teal:

Pennsylvania Ducks

Green-winged Teal ducks are a common sight in Pennsylvania during their migration season. These small, agile ducks can be found in freshwater and saltwater habitats across the state. They are known for their distinctive green wing patch and brownish-gray body with white stripes on their faces.

During winter, Pennsylvania provides a crucial resting spot for these migratory birds as they fly south from their breeding grounds in Canada and Alaska. They can often be spotted along bodies of water such as rivers, lakes, and ponds throughout the state. Green-winged Teals feed on aquatic plants, seeds, and insects.

Hunters also appreciate these ducks due to their excellent taste as game birds. However, it is important to note that regulations surrounding hunting seasons and bag limits are strictly enforced to ensure sustainable populations of this species.


Scientific NameAnasCrecca
Length12.2 – 15.3 in (31 – 39 cm)
Weight4.9 – 17.6 oz (140 – 500 g)
Wingspan20.5 – 23.2 in (52 – 59 cm)


Pennsylvania Ducks

Gadwalls Ducks are a widespread species found in Pennsylvania, and they have become increasingly popular among birdwatchers and hunters alike. These beautiful birds are known for their distinctive plumage, which features a gray-brown body, black rump, and white belly. They also have a strikingly patterned black bill that sets them apart from other duck species.

Gadwalls can be found in wetlands throughout Pennsylvania during the fall migration season. They prefer shallow water habitats such as marshes, ponds, streams, and rivers, where they can feed on aquatic plants and insects. During the winter months, Gadwalls can often be seen congregating in large flocks on bodies of water such as lakes or reservoirs.


Scientific NameMarecaStrepera
Length19 – 23 in (48 – 58 cm)
Weight35.27 oz (1000 g)
Wingspan31 – 36 in (79 – 91 cm)

American Wigeon:

Pennsylvania Ducks

American Wigeon ducks are a common sight in Pennsylvania. They are known for their unique and striking appearance, with males sporting a green patch on their heads and females having a warm brown coloring. These birds are typically found in the state’s wetlands, marshes, ponds, and rivers.

One of the reasons why these ducks have become so prevalent in Pennsylvania is due to the conservation efforts aimed at preserving their natural habitats. Wetland restoration projects have provided these waterfowl with the necessary resources to thrive. Additionally, hunting regulations have helped maintain healthy populations of these beautiful birds.

If you’re interested in seeing America ducks up close and personal, there are plenty of places throughout Pennsylvania where you can catch a glimpse of them. The Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area is a popular location where these beautiful waterfowl gather during migration.


Scientific NameMareca Americana
Length16.5 – 23.2 in (42 – 59 cm)
Weight19.1 – 46.9 oz (540 – 1330 g)
Wingspan33.1 in (84 cm)

Northern Shovelers-Pennsylvania Ducks

Pennsylvania Ducks

Northern Shovelers are an exciting breed of duck found in Pennsylvania during winter. These ducks are unique due to their outstanding bills, which look like shovels and are used for filtering food from the water. They are also known as spoonbills or spatula ducks because of their bill shape.

During the breeding season, they migrate to northern Canada and Alaska, but when winter rolls around, they head south to find warmer waters. Pennsylvania is one location where these ducks can be found during this time of year. They tend to congregate in wetlands and other shallow bodies of water where they can easily find food.

The best time to spot Northern Shovelers in Pennsylvania is typically between November and March. During these months, you might see them paddling through ponds or dabbling on the surface of shallow waters.


Scientific NameSpatula clypeata
Length17.3 – 20.1 in (44 – 51 cm)
Weight14.1 – 28.9 oz (400 – 820 g)
Wingspan27.2 – 33.1 in (69 – 84 cm)

Northern Pintail:

Northern Pintail Ducks are a common sight in Pennsylvania during the winter months. These ducks are known for their long, slender necks and pointed tails, which make them easy to spot among other waterfowl. They are also recognized for their striking plumage, with males sporting a distinctive chocolate-brown head and grayish-blue body while females have a mottled brown appearance.

These ducks prefer open wetlands like marshes, ponds, and flooded fields, where they feed on insects, plants, and seeds. During migration season in Pennsylvania, Northern Pintail Ducks can be found in large flocks near these habitats. Observing their social behavior is fascinating as they often swim together in tight groups or fly overhead in synchronized patterns.

Despite being a famous game bird among hunters due to their delicious meat, conservation efforts have helped maintain healthy populations of Northern Pintails Ducks in Pennsylvania.


Scientific NameAnasAcuta
Length20 – 26 in (51 – 66 cm)
Weight36.33 oz (1030 g)
Wingspan29 – 35 in (74 – 89 cm)

Blue-Winged Teal:

Pennsylvania Ducks

The Blue-Winged Teal Duck is a migratory bird that passes through Pennsylvania during fall and winter. These ducks are easily recognizable with their distinctive blue wing patches, which are only visible when they fly. Their small body size and short bill make them unique among other duck species.

During the migration period, Blue-Winged Teal Ducks can be observed in various wetland habitats throughout Pennsylvania, such as marshes and ponds. They are highly social birds and often form large flocks of hundreds or even thousands of individuals. Their diet consists mainly of aquatic vegetation, insects, and small invertebrates in these wetland areas.

Although Blue-Winged Teal Ducks are not considered an endangered species, their populations have declined over recent years due to habitat loss caused by human activities.


Scientific NameSpatula discors
Length15 – 17 in (38 – 43 cm)
Weight19.18 oz (544 g)
Wingspan23 – 31 in (58 – 79 cm)


Pennsylvania Ducks

Bufflehead ducks are a sight to behold in Pennsylvania. These small ducks, named for their large heads and puffy feathers, are known for their striking black and white markings. They can be found in freshwater ponds and lakes across the state during winter. Buffleheads are migratory birds who spend their summers in Canada and Alaska before flying south for the winter.

One of the fascinating things about buffleheads is their acrobatic diving behavior. They can dive up to 20 feet below the water’s surface for food like crustaceans, mollusks, and aquatic insects. Their small size makes them vulnerable to predators like bald eagles and hawks, so they often stay close together in large flocks for safety.


Scientific NameBucephalaAlbeola
Length13 – 16 in (33 – 41 cm)
Weight21.16 oz (600 g)
Wingspan20 – 24 in (51 – 61 cm)

Ring-necked Pennsylvania Ducks

Ring-necked ducks are common in Pennsylvania’s wetlands during the winter months. These birds have distinctive markings that make them easy to identify – males have a black head, a white ring around their neck, and a gray body, while females are brown with a lighter-colored ring around their neck. These medium-sized diving ducks can be found in fresh and saltwater habitats across North America.

During the breeding season, Ring-necked ducks live in freshwater marshes and ponds throughout Canada and the northern United States. However, when colder weather sets in, they migrate southward to warmer climates like Pennsylvania, where they spend most of their winter months. They feed on aquatic vegetation and small fish, crustaceans, and mollusks beneath the water’s surface.

The best time to spot Ring-necked ducks is between October and March when they are most abundant in Pennsylvania’s wetlands.


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

Ruddy Ducks:

Pennsylvania Ducks

Pennsylvania is home to diverse waterfowl species, including the Ruddy Duck. These small but unique ducks are distinctive in appearance and behavior, making them a fascinating subject for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts.

The male Ruddy Duck sports a bright blue bill, striking white cheeks, and a chestnut-colored body that becomes more vibrant during mating season. In contrast, females have duller plumage with gray-brown feathers and a pale stripe above their eyes. Despite their small size (about 13-15 inches long), these ducks are known for their aggressive courtship displays that involve diving headfirst into the water while drumming their bills against their chests.

One of the best places to spot Ruddy Ducks in Pennsylvania is Presque Isle State Park in Erie. This park features several ponds and lakes that provide ideal habitats for these birds.


Scientific NameOxyuraJamaicensis
Length14 – 16 in (35.56 – 40.64 cm)
Weight28.04 oz (795 g)
Wingspan21 – 24 in (53 – 61 cm)

Lesser Scaup:

The Lesser Scaup duck is common in Pennsylvania’s wetlands, rivers, and lakes. These birds are known for their distinctive blue bills and striking black and white plumage. They are also called “bluebills” due to their stunning blue-gray coloration on the beak.

During breeding seasons, these ducks can be found in the boreal forests of Canada, Alaska, and parts of the United States. However, they migrate south during winter to warmer areas such as Pennsylvania, where they can find plenty of food sources.

While some hunting is permitted in Pennsylvania for Lesser Scaup ducks, conservation efforts have been put in place to ensure that populations remain stable. The state has implemented regulations on hunting seasons and bag limits to protect these creatures from overhunting.


Scientific NameAythyaAffinis
Length15 – 18 in (38 – 49 cm)
Weight40.77 oz (1155 g)
Wingspan24 – 33 in (61 – 84 cm)


Pennsylvania Ducks

Redhead ducks are a common sight in Pennsylvania during the winter months. These beautiful birds are known for their stunning redheads and grey bodies, making them easy to spot among other waterfowl species. They are also renowned for their diving abilities, allowing them to submerge underwater for up to 30 seconds.

Many birdwatchers flock to Pennsylvania during the winter months specifically to catch a glimpse of these magnificent creatures. Redhead ducks can be found in large flocks on lakes, rivers, and ponds throughout the state, with popular viewing areas including Lake Erie and Presque Isle Bay. Their distinctive calls echo across the water as they dive deep beneath its surface.


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

Greater Scaup-Pennsylvania Ducks

The Greater Scaup duck is a fascinating bird found in Pennsylvania. These ducks are known for their unique physical characteristics, such as their black and white plumage with iridescent green patches on their heads. They are also larger than other species, hence the name “Greater” Scaup.

In Pennsylvania, these birds can be seen during migration seasons and winter months when they flock to the state’s bodies of water. They prefer large lakes, reservoirs, and coastal bays where they can dive deep for food. Their diet includes mollusks, crustaceans, aquatic insects, and small fish.

Although this duck is not considered endangered or threatened now, it is vital to protect its natural habitats to ensure long-term survival.


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)


Canvasback ducks are famous game birds in Pennsylvania due to their remarkable beauty and excellent taste. These ducks are native to North America and can be found throughout the continent, including Pennsylvania. They are known for their striking red eyes, sleek white bodies, and distinctive black heads.

In Pennsylvania, canvasbacks are primarily found in wetlands and shallow lakes. During the winter months, they migrate south from the northern regions to spend winter along waterways in the state. Hunting these birds is a popular activity among hunters in Pennsylvania, with many avid hunters considering it a privilege to pursue them.

However, hunting regulations have been implemented to ensure that canvasback populations remain stable. These regulations limit bag limits and hunting seasons while enforcing strict rules on hunting methods hunters use.


Scientific NameAythyaValisineria
Length19 – 24 in (48 – 61 cm)
Weight58.48 oz (1657 g)
Wingspan28 – 36 in (71 – 91 cm)

Common Merganser:

Common Merganser Ducks, or Goosanders, is a type of waterfowl in Pennsylvania. These ducks are large and have a unique appearance with their green heads and red bills. They prefer to live near rivers or lakes where they can easily catch fish for food.

Merganser ducks are migratory birds that breed in northern North America before flying south for the winter. They can be spotted in Pennsylvania during their migration period, usually from February to April and then again from September to November. During this time, they travel in flocks and can often be seen swimming together on open bodies of water.

Despite being commonly found in Pennsylvania, common mergansers face several threats, such as habitat loss due to human development along riverbanks and pollution of water bodies.


Scientific NameMergus Merganser
Length22 – 27 in (56 – 69 cm)
Weight60.8 oz (1723 g)
Wingspan31 – 37 in (79 – 94 cm)

Hooded Merganser:

Pennsylvania Ducks

Hooded Merganser ducks are a sight to behold in Pennsylvania. With their striking appearance and unique behaviors, these birds have become popular among bird watchers and nature enthusiasts. These small, colorful ducks can be found throughout the state during their breeding season, typically between mid-March and early May.

During this time, male Hooded Mergansers put on an impressive display to attract females. They raise their crests into dramatic peaks while flapping their wings and making loud calls. Female mergansers are also quite fascinating to observe as they carefully choose a mate based on the male’s displays of strength and agility.

The Hooded Merganser is visually appealing and plays an important role in maintaining the health of freshwater ecosystems.


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

Red-breasted Merganser:

Pennsylvania Ducks

Red-breasted Merganser Ducks are a common sight in Pennsylvania during the winter months. These ducks, known for their striking appearance and unique behaviors, can be found on lakes and rivers across the state. Their bright red eyes, pointed bills, and distinctive head shape makes them easy to spot in the water.

One of the most exciting things about Red-breasted Mergansers is their hunting strategy. They swim along the water’s surface with their heads submerged, scanning for prey with sharp eyesight. Once they spot a fish or crustacean, they dive underwater to catch it using their powerful webbed feet. This hunting technique is not only practical but also fascinating to watch.

While Red-breasted Mergansers are primarily seen during the winter months in Pennsylvania, they can also be spotted during migration periods in spring and fall.


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

Common Goldeneye:

Pennsylvania Ducks

Common Goldeneye ducks are a common sight in Pennsylvania during the winter months. These beautiful birds are known for their striking black and white plumage, with males sporting distinctive green heads. They can often swim in lakes, ponds, rivers, and coastal areas.

Goldeneyes migrate north to Canada and Alaska during the breeding season, building their nests near freshwater lakes or streams. Once the chicks hatch, the mother will lead them to nearby ponds where they can learn how to swim and feed themselves. By late fall, these young ducks will have grown into fully-fledged adults ready to make their way back down south.

While hunting of Common Goldeneyes was once popular in Pennsylvania due to their delicious meat, today, these birds are protected by law.


Scientific NameBucephala clangula
Length15.8 – 20.1 in (40 – 51 cm)
Weight21.2 – 45.9 oz (600 – 1300 g)
Wingspan30.3 – 32.7 in (77 – 83 cm)

Final Thoughts:

Pennsylvania Ducks are an interesting species of bird that live in and around Pennsylvania. They have specific eating habits, and their habitats are unique to the region. While they may not be seen very often, knowing about these birds can help people appreciate the natural beauty of Pennsylvania and its wildlife even more. By learning about them and doing what we can to protect their habitats, we can ensure that future generations will also be able to enjoy seeing these amazing animals.