If you have an interest in ducks then you will be very glad to hear that Georgia is a state that welcomes many different duck species each year. There are many different types of ducks frequenting this southern state. Some are present year-round, and some are more likely to be seen at a specific time of year.
Read on the discover some of the duck species that you might encounter when birdwatching in Georgia, and when each of these species is most likely to be seen.
- Anas platyrhynchos
- 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)
This most recognizable of ducks is present in Georgia year-round. Sightings of this duck are reported in 8% of birdwatchers’ checklists here in summer, and 10% of checklists during the winter months.
Look for these dabbling ducks throughout the year in city parks, and on other ponds and rivers, where people will often feed them.
Mallard males have green heads and yellow bills. Their wings have blue patches. The female mallards have blue wing patches too but are mostly mottled brown, and have orange bills.
- Aix sponsa
- 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)
This is another duck that can be seen in Georgia throughout the whole of the year. In both summer and winter, they appear in 4% of the checklists of birdwatchers in this state.
Look out for wood ducks in wet and watery treed landscapes where they can be found feeding both on water and on land.
The males of this species have green heads with notable crests, red eyes, and black and white markings. Females are brown, with white-ringed dark eyes. Both sexes have blue wing patches.
- Spatula discors
- Length: 15 – 17 in (38 – 43 cm)
- Weight: 19.18 oz (544 g)
- Wingspan: 23 – 31 in (58 – 79 cm)
Recorded in 1% of the checklists of Georgia birdwatchers, the blue-winged teals are mainly seen here in the winter. They typically arrive in August and depart again by May.
Look for these birds in lakes or ponds, marshy areas, or along the shoreline where there is plenty of vegetation for them to eat.
This small species of dabbling duck has a mostly brown body. Males have blue-gray heads with white eye crescents and blue wing patches. Females are brown patterned without white on their faces.
- Spatula clypeata
- 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)
These ducks typically arrive in Georgia to spend the winter there. They reach the state in October and typically depart again by March. However, some have been spotted year-round. This species is included in 2% of checklists submitted by Georgia birdwatchers in winter.
You can expect to encounter these ducks in shallow bodies of stagnant water where they gather in large groups.
The males have black, spoon-shaped bills, green heads, black backs, russet red sides, white chests, and blue wing patches. Females have blue shoulder patches, brown speckled plumage, and spoon-shaped orange bills.
- Mareca strepera
- Length: 19 – 23 in (48 – 58 cm)
- Weight: 35.27 oz (1000 g)
- Wingspan: 31 – 36 in (79 – 91 cm)
Also recorded in 2% of Georgia birdwatchers’ winter checklists, gadwalls are more likely to be spotted only in the north of the state, and typically only between November and March, though a few remain here all year.
In the north, you may see them in city parks and on reservoirs or large ponds.
Males of this species have brown heads, black patterned chests, and shoulders, white bellies, and black bottoms. The females are brown, with more diffuse patterns.
- Anas crecca
- 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)
Also spotted as frequently as the above two ducks in Georgia, the green-winged teal is another duck to look out for in winter. Typically, these birds will arrive in August, and depart by around April the following year.
Look out for these ducks in wetland areas and shallow ponds in large congregations.
The males have brown heads with green stripes down the side and grayish bodies. Females are brown with a yellow tail streak. Both males and females have green patches on their wings.
- Mareca americana
- Length: 16.5 – 23.2 in (42 – 59 cm)
- Weight: 19.1 – 46.9 oz (540 – 1330 g)
- Wingspan: 33.1 in (84 cm)
American wigeons are another species seen in winter, mainly in the north of the state. They typically arrive there in October and reside in the area until around May.
You can see these ducks in fields and grassland as well as in wetlands and ponds.
The males are grayish-brown, with white caps and green stripes on the sides of their heads. The females are brown with grayish heads and both sexes have pale bills.
- Anas acuta
- Length: 20 – 26 in (51 – 66 cm)
- Weight: 36.33 oz (1030 g)
- Wingspan: 29 – 35 in (74 – 89 cm)
This duck has been sighted in Georgia all year round. But these birds are most commonly seen in Georgia between mid-October and January. So this is the best time to look out for them.
You might find these ducks in open wetlands, prairies, and fields, and, in winter, in sheltered coastal waters and salt marshes.
These ducks have long, pointed tails. Males have white bodies and neck stripes, patterned backs with black and gray, and brown heads. Females are brown with detailed patterns.
- Aythya collaris
- Length: 14 – 18 in (36 – 46 cm)
- Weight: 32.09 oz (909 g)
- Wingspan: 24 – 30 in (61 – 76 cm)
Ring-necked ducks can sometimes be seen here all year. But they are most commonly seen over the winter months when they are recorded in 5% of state birdwatchers’ checklists. They typically arrive in mid-October and depart in mid-April.
You are most likely to encounter these ducks in small, shallow ponds and along gentle rivers.
Males have cinnamon rings around their necks, black foreheads, and black and white bodies, black above and white below. Females are largely brown with gray faces and white rings around their eyes.
- Bucephala albeola
- Length: 13 – 16 in (33 – 41 cm)
- Weight: 21.16 oz (600 g)
- Wingspan: 20 – 24 in (51-61 cm)
Another duck to look out for in the winter is the bufflehead. This species appears in 4% of Georgia birdwatchers’ winter checklists and is most commonly spotted between October and May.
These ducks are found in winter in shallow, protected coastal waters.
Males and females both have bulbous heads. The male has green and purple iridescence on its head and neck, and a body that is white below and black on top. Females have dark brown or black heads with white patches below their eyes and they are gray below and black on top.
- Oxyura jamaicensis
- Length: 14 – 16 in (35.56 – 40.64 cm)
- Weight: 28.04 oz (795 g)
- Wingspan: 21 – 24 in (53 – 61 cm)
It is most common to see ruddy ducks in Georgia between October and March when they are recorded in 3% of the checklists of birdwatchers from this state. But some ruddy ducks do hang out in the state all year, so they can sometimes be spotted at other times too.
Ruddy ducks can be spotted in wetland and aquatic environments of different types in summer, and in winter, spend a lot of time along the coast in shallow waters.
Males are only reddish or ruddy during the breeding season. The non-breeding males and females are a broadly grayish hue.
- Aythya affinis
- Length: 15 – 18 in (38 – 49 cm)
- Weight: 40.77 oz (1155 g)
- Wingspan: 24 – 33 in (61 – 84 cm)
You are most likely to see lesser scaup in Georgia between November and April. These ducks appear in 2% of the winter checklists of birdwatchers in this state.
Look for these birds in winter mostly along the coast, but also in large lakes, reservoirs or ponds.
Males have purple-sheened black heads, chests and bottoms, white sides, and gray, patterned backs. They have tufts of hair on the top of their heads. Females have brown heads with white cheek patches. Their bodies are mostly brown with gray sides, and they have no head tufts.
- Aythya americana
- Length: 18 -22 in (46 – 56 cm)
- Weight: 43.03 oz (1219 g)
- Wingspan: 29 – 35 in (74 – 89 cm)
Redheads also appear in 2% of birdwatchers’ winter checklists submitted in Georgia. There have been sightings of these ducks between October and June, but they are most commonly seen between November and March.
You can typically expect to see these birds along the coast in winter, in waters that are fairly shallow and calm.
As their name suggests, males have vibrant red heads. They also have black throats and mostly gray bodies. Female redheads are brown all over.
- Anas fulvigula
- Length: 20 – 22 in (51 – 56 cm)
- Weight: 36.8 oz (1043 g)
- Wingspan: 30 in (76 cm)
Mottled ducks reside year-round here – but only in the southeast of the state, along the coast. Though they live here year-round, they are most commonly seen from March to the middle of June.
Look out for them along the southeast coastline, in shallow coastal waters.
Both males and females of this species have light-brown heads with dark bands across their eyes, and dark-brown bodies with clear scalloped patterns. They also both have blue-purple wing patches, but you can tell the sexes apart by their bills as the male has a yellow bill and the female has an olive one.
- Lophodytes cucullatus
- Length: 16 – 19 in (41 – 48 cm)
- Weight: 32.09 oz (909 g)
- Wingspan: 24 – 26 in (61 – 66 cm)
Appearing in 7% of winter birdwatchers’ checklists in Georgia, the hooded merganser can be spotted in this state between November and April.
Look out for them in brackish swamps and along the coastline during the winter months.
The males have black heads with prominent white crests and yellow eyes. Their bodies are black on top with white stripes towards the base, with cinnamon sides, and white chests with black bars. Females have red-brown crests and their bodies are brown-gray.
- Mergus serrator
- Length: 16 – 26 in (41 – 66 cm)
- Weight: 47.61 oz (1349 g)
- Wingspan: 31 – 35 in (79 – 89 cm)
This is another duck that spends the winter in Georgia and is recorded on 1% of birdwatchers’ checklists during this time. Look out for them also between November and April.
They can be found here in coastal waters through the winter months.
Females and males not in breeding season have reddish-brown crests, white throats, and largely gray bodies. Males have black, green-sheened heads, notable crests, dark red eyes, and orange bills. They have white rings around their necks, black and white backs, gray flanks, and mottled red-brown breasts.
- Melanitta americana
- Length: 17 – 21 in (43 – 53 cm)
- Weight: 387.4 oz (1088 g)
- Wingspan: 30 – 35 in (76 – 89 cm)
This is sadly a near-threatened species in Georgia. One can spot these ducks here year-round but they are most commonly seen during the winter in the southeast, along the coast.
Look out for this duck species between November and February along the shoreline and in coastal waters.
The males live up to their name and are indeed black all over apart from bright yellow patches at the base of their bills. But the females are not black at all but rather mostly brown.
- Bucephala clangula
- Length: 15.8 – 20.1 in (40 – 51 cm)
- Weight: 21.2 – 45.9 oz (600 – 1300 g)
- Wingspan: 30.3 – 32.7 in (77 – 83 cm)
These ducks can also be seen in Georgia in winter. They tend to be spotted here between their arrival in November and their departure in April.
Find these ducks along the coastline too, feeding on crustaceans, fish, fish eggs, and insects.
The males have glossy green, almost black heads, white sides and bellies, and black backs. Females have brown heads and gray-brown bodies.
- Melanitta perspicillata
- Length: 17 – 21 in (43 – 53 cm)
- Weight: 35.27 oz (1000 g)
- Wingspan: 30 – 36 in (76 – 91 cm)
Sometimes called ‘old skunk-head coot’, these ducks are also typically seen in Georgia during the winter months. They tend to arrive in October and will remain in the state until around May.
These ducks get their colloquial name from the males with their white patches on their forehead and nape that stand out against their black feathers.
These birds also have distinctive orange bills, with white, red, and yellow patterns and a large black spot at the base. Females have dark gray bills and are mostly dark gray all over.
Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks
- Dendrocygna autumnalis
- Length: 18 – 21 in (46 – 53 cm)
- Weight: 28.8 oz (816 g)
- Wingspan: 34 – 36 in (86 – 91 cm)
Black-bellied whistling ducks can be spotted in the south of the state. Some of these interesting ducks remain in Georgia year-round, though they are mainly spotted during the summer, between April and October.
This species is easily recognizable, with their bright red bills, gray faces and throats, reddish-brown necks, backs and breasts, and pink legs.
There are certainly other ducks that can be spotted sometimes in Georgia and the above is not an exhaustive list. But if you are looking to learn more about ducks in this state then the species listed above are a good place to start.