Ducks in Connecticut: 20 Species To Look Out For

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If you’re a Connecticut birdwatcher, you’re in for a treat this winter. Connecticut is home to 20 different species of ducks, many of which are seen during the winter.

If you’re interested in birdwatching, Connecticut is a great place to live. The state has a wide variety of birds, particularly duck species, and there are plenty of places where you can go to see them.

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced birder, Connecticut has something to offer you. So get out there and start spotting some ducks!

Mallard

Mallard
  • Scientific Name: Anas platyrhynchos
  • Length: 20–26 in
  • Weight: 1.5–3.5 lb
  • Wingspan: 32–39 in

The mallard is the most common duck in Connecticut, and it’s also one of the most common ducks in the world. This species is easily recognizable thanks to its green head and yellow bill.

Mallards can be found in both fresh and salt water, and they often congregate in large groups. You might see a flock of mallards taking off from a pond or lake if you’re lucky.

Blue-Winged Teal

Blue-Winged Teal
  • Scientific Name: Spatula discors
  • Length: 16 in
  • Weight: 13 oz
  • Wingspan: 23 in

The blue-winged teal is a small dabbling duck that can be found in the western U.S. and Canada. In Colorado, they are generally seen in the eastern and northern parts of the state. They are also one of the earliest migrating ducks, often leaving their breeding grounds in September or October.

Blue-winged teals typically eat insects and aquatic vegetation. However, they have been known to eat just about anything! In the winter, they often congregate in large flocks on rivers and lakes.

Green-Winged Teal

Green-Winged Teal Duck
  • Scientific Name: Anas carolinensis
  • Length: 12.2–15.3 in
  • Weight: 4.9–17.6 oz
  • Wingspan: 20.5–23.2 in

The Green-winged teal is a small duck that is common in Colorado. These ducks are very social and can often be seen in large flocks. They are also quite vocal, and their distinctive call is often the first sign that they are nearby.

These ducks are excellent swimmers and adept at flying, making them a popular choice for hunters. While they aren’t the largest duck in Colorado, they are still an important part of the state’s ecosystem.

Northern Pintail

Northern Pintail
  • Scientific Name: Anas acuta
  • Length: 23–30 in
  • Weight: 0.99–3.00 lb
  • Wingspan: 31–37 in

The northern pintail is a migratory bird that spends the summers in the northern United States and Canada. In the fall, they head south to their wintering grounds, which include parts of the southern United States, Mexico, and Central America. They can be found in wetlands, rivers, and streams in Connecticut.

When they are in flight, northern pintails often hold their necks straight, and their tails pointed. This makes them resemble an arrow, which is how they got their name.

American Wigeon

American Wigeon
  • Scientific Name: Mareca americana
  • Length: 17–23 in
  • Weight: 1.129–2.932 lb
  • Wingspan: 30–36 in

The American wigeon is a species of duck that can be found in various parts of North America, including the state of Connecticut.

American wigeons typically breed in wetland areas, but they can also be found in fields and meadows during the winter months. In Connecticut, these ducks can be seen in places like the Quinebaug River Valley and the Housatonic Meadows State Park. American wigeons are social creatures, and they often travel in large flocks.

Gadwall

Gadwalls
  • Scientific Name: Mareca strepera
  • Length: 19–23 in
  • Weight: 30-35 oz
  • Wingspan: 31–33 in

If you’re lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a gadwall in Connecticut, you’re in for a treat. These birds are elegant and graceful, with rich brown plumage and striking white markings.

Gadwalls are relatively uncommon in Connecticut, but they can be found in wetland areas throughout the state. These birds are expert swimmers, and they often use their webbed feet to dabble in the water for food.

In the winter months, gadwalls congregate in large flocks, making them a spectacular sight for birdwatchers.

Wood Duck

Wood Ducks
  • Scientific Name: Aix sponsa
  • Length: 19 to 21 in
  • Weight: 16.0-30.4 oz
  • Wingspan: 26 to 29 in

The wood duck is another common Connecticut duck. This duck is smaller than the mallard, and it has more colorful plumage. The male wood duck is especially striking, with its bright red eyes and purple chest.

Wood ducks are usually found near wooded areas, hence their name. These ducks like to nest in tree cavities, so you might see them flying into the woods to find a suitable nesting spot.

Northern Shoveler

Northern Shovelers
  • Scientific Name: Spatula clypeata
  • Length: 19 in
  • Weight: 1.3 lb
  • Wingspan: 30 in

Northern shovelers are medium-sized ducks with a distinctive long, spoon-shaped bill. These ducks are year-round residents of Connecticut and can be found in a variety of habitats, including marshes, ponds, and wetlands.

During the breeding season, northern shovelers form pairs and build nests close to the ground. The female lays a clutch of 8-10 eggs, which she incubates for about three weeks.

American Black Duck

American Black Ducks
  • Scientific Name: Anas rubripes
  • Length: 21–23 in
  • Weight: 1.59–3.62 lb
  • Wingspan: 35–37 in

The American black duck is a dabbling duck that breeds in eastern North America. The male has dark brown plumage, while the female is brown with a white belly. Both sexes have yellow eyes and blue-gray bills.

In Connecticut, they can be seen year-round, but are most common in the spring and fall. During the breeding season, males establish territories near ponds and marshy areas. They use a “quack-wheeze” call to attract mates.

Bufflehead

Buffleheads
  • Scientific Name: Bucephala albeola
  • Length: 13–16 in
  • Weight: 9.5–19.4 oz
  • Wingspan: 55 cm

The Bufflehead is a small, agile duck with striking plumage. Males have a black head and back, with a large white patch extending from the eye to the back of the head. The rest of the body is mostly white, with a few dark feathers on the wings.

Females are similar in appearance, but their plumage is more subdued, with brownish-grey feathers on the head and wings. Buffleheads are native to North America, and they can be found in wooded areas near ponds and lakes.

Canvasback

Canvasbacks
  • Scientific Name: Aythya valisineria
  • Length: 19–22 in
  • Weight: 1.9–3.5 lb
  • Wingspan: 31–35 in

The Canvasback is a species of duck that is native to North America. The bird is easily recognizable thanks to its red-colored head and white body. Canvasbacks are generally found in freshwater habitats, such as ponds, lakes, and marshes.

In Connecticut, the bird can be seen in many different parts of the state. The Canvasback is an important duck species because it plays a role in controlling the growth of aquatic vegetation.

Lesser Scaup

Lesser Scaup
  • Scientific Name: Aythya affinis
  • Length: 15–19 in
  • Weight: 1–2.4 lb
  • Wingspan: 27–31 in

The Lesser scaup is a small duck that is mostly grey and white. These ducks have black heads with blue-gray bills. The males and females look different. The males have green heads and the females have brown heads.

In Connecticut, they can be found in lakes, ponds, and rivers. The best time to see them is in the spring and summer. If you see one, please take a picture and share it with us! We would love to see it!

Greater Scaup

Greater Scaup
  • Scientific Name: Aythya marila
  • Length: 15–22 in
  • Weight: 28–33 in
  • Wingspan: 1.6–3 lb

The greater scaup is a species of diving duck that is found in North America. In Connecticut, they are generally seen along the coast, although they can also be found in inland lakes and ponds.

Greater scaups are generally found in flocks and are known to be very social birds. Although they’re not considered to be endangered at this time, their population has declined in recent years due to habitat loss and other factors.

Ring-Necked Duck

Ring-necked Ducks
  • Scientific Name: Aythya collaris
  • Length: 15.3-18.1 in
  • Weight: 17.3-32.1 oz
  • Wingspan: 24.4-24.8 in

Ring-necked ducks are medium-sized ducks with dark bodies and distinctive white rings around their necks. These ducks are commonly found in wooded ponds and marshes across North America and are a popular species for birdwatchers.

In Connecticut, Ring-necked ducks can be seen year-round, although they are most common in the winter months. These ducks typically form large flocks, and they can often be heard vocalizing to each other.

Redhead

Redhead
  • Scientific Name: Aythya americana
  • Length: 15 in
  • Weight: 2.0 – 2.5 lbs
  • Wingspan: 33 in

Redheads duck are medium-sized ducks with distinctive reddish-brown heads. The body is mostly white, with a dark brown tail and wings. The redhead is one of the most popular game birds in North America, and its meat is prized for its flavor and tenderness.

In recent years, the population of redhead ducks in Connecticut has declined due to habitat loss and hunting pressure.

Ruddy Duck

Ruddy Duck
  • Scientific Name: Oxyura jamaicensis
  • Length: 13.5–17 in
  • Weight: 1.23 lb
  • Wingspan: 18.5 in

The Ruddy Duck is a small waterfowl that is easily recognizable by its bright plumage. During the breeding season, males are a vibrant chestnut color, with a white belly and blue bills. Females are more subdued, with gray-brown feathers and a white facial patch.

These ducks are often seen swimming alone or in small groups, although they will sometimes form large flocks during migration. In Connecticut, Ruddy Ducks can be found in marshes and ponds throughout the state.

Eurasian Wigeon

Eurasian Wigeon
  • Scientific Name: Mareca penelope
  • Length: 17–20 in
  • Weight: 1.1–2.4 lb
  • Wingspan: 28–31 in

The Eurasian wigeon is a species of duck that is native to Europe and Asia. In recent years, however, some Eurasian wigeons have been spotted in the state of Connecticut.

Eurasian wigeons typically spend their winters in southern Europe and northern Africa. In the spring and summer, they move north to breed in Scandinavia and other parts of northern Europe.

It is believed that the Eurasian wigeons that have been seen in Connecticut are actually strays that have lost their way during their annual migration.

Long-Tailed Duck

Long-tailed Duck
  • Scientific Name: Clangula hyemalis
  • Length: 17.5–23.5 in
  • Weight: 1.63 lb
  • Wingspan: 28 in

The long-tailed duck is a migratory bird that can be found in North America during the winter months. In Connecticut, they are generally seen near the coast, where they congregate in large flocks to feed on mollusks and other small invertebrates. These ducks have a distinctive appearance, with a long tail that extends well beyond their body.

Common Merganser

Common Merganser
  • Scientific Name: Mergus merganser
  • Length: 23–28 in
  • Weight: 2–4 lb
  • Wingspan: 30–38 in

The common merganser is a large duck that can be found across North America. In Connecticut, they are often seen along rivers and streams.

These ducks are excellent swimmers and can often be seen diving underwater in pursuit of their next meal. Although they aren’t native to Connecticut, common mergansers have made themselves at home in the state and can easily be spotted by keen birders.

Common Goldeneye

Common Goldeneye
  • Scientific Name: Bucephala clangula
  • Length: 18–20 in
  • Weight: 2.2 lb
  • Wingspan: 77-83 cm

The common goldeneye is a small duck that is easily recognized by its distinctive round head and bright yellow eyes. These ducks are found in wooded areas near lakes and ponds, and they typically mate for life.

In Connecticut, common goldeneyes can be found throughout the year, but they are most common in the winter months.

Although they aren’t considered to be an endangered species, common goldeneyes are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. As a result, it’s illegal to hunt or harm these ducks in any way.

Final Thoughts

Connecticut is home to a wide variety of ducks, from the brightly colored ruddy duck to the long-tailed duck. Birders who are interested in seeing these beautiful birds should keep an eye out for them near lakes, ponds, and marshes – or even along Connecticut’s coastline!

In addition, the state is home to many other species of birds that make Connecticut a great destination for birders of all levels. So, get out there and start exploring!

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Sophie Herlihy

After an early start in the veterinary industry and as a conservation educator at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Florida, Sophie has since been a successful Zookeeper and Conservationist, specializing in native New Zealand species. When she isn't bird watching in native forests or crawling through the underbrush at midnight searching for rare frog species, she can be found with her husband on their sheep and beef station, far from civilization.