20 Ducks in New York – Our Guide to What You Can Expect!

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New York state has numerous bird species to see. When it comes to waterfowl, ducks are an important group, and there are fortunately many to see in this state – perhaps more than you might have imagined.

So, to help you begin to explore the ducks you might encounter in New York, here are some of the species and when they are to be found in this area:

Mallard

Mallard Ducks
  • 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)

Mallards are instantly recognizable to many bird watchers and are perhaps one of the easiest duck species to identify. These birds can be seen in New York throughout the year. They are encountered here in both summer and winter and appear on almost a quarter of checklists in summer and a quarter of checklists during the colder months.

American Black Ducks

American Black Ducks
  • Anas rubripes
  • Length: 19 – 23 in (48 – 58 cm)
  • Weight: 49.6 oz (1406 g)
  • Wingspan: 33 – 36 in (84 – 91 cm)

You can see American black ducks in New York all year round too. However, these ducks are seen more frequently in winter. Their numbers swell between November and March, so you are most likely to encounter this species in the state over the winter months.

Wood Ducks

Wood Ducks
  • 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)

Wood ducks are another dabbling duck that you can see in New York throughout the year. However, they are most frequently spotted here during the migration periods – so look out for them during the spring migration in April, and during the fall migration from mid-august to September.

Gadwalls

Gadwalls
  • Mareca strepera
  • Length: 19 – 23 in (48 – 58 cm)
  • Weight: 35.27 oz (1000 g)
  • Wingspan: 31 – 36 in (79 – 91 cm)

Gadwalls are spotted in this state throughout the year, though they are seen a little more frequently in winter. Look out for them in open wetland areas, marshlands with thick vegetation, grasslands, and, in winter, in city parks, estuaries, and reservoirs.

Northern Shovelers

Northern Shovelers
  • 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 can be seen in the west of the state between their arrival in September and their departure in April. They are recorded on 3% of birdwatchers’ winter checklists in New York. Look for this duck congregating in large social groups in shallow, stagnant bodies of water.

Green-Winged Teal

Green-Winged Teal Duck
  • 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)

Green-winged teals appear on around 1% of the New York birdwatchers’ checklists in both summer and winter months. They can be spotted here at any time of year, in large groups on open wetlands and on shallow ponds.

American Wigeon

American Wigeon
  • 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 can sometimes be spotted here throughout the summer too, but they are most frequently seen in New York between September and April. They appear on 2% of winter birdwatchers’ checklists in this state.

Northern Pintail

Northern Pintail
  • Anas acuta
  • Length: 20 – 26 in (51 – 66 cm)
  • Weight: 36.33 oz (1030 g)
  • Wingspan: 29 – 35 in (74 – 89 cm)

This is another duck that can be seen in New York throughout the year. But again, they are most frequently spotted in this state between September and April, often alongside other duck species in open wetland areas, marshes, and fields close to lakes and ponds.

Blue-Winged Teal

Blue-Winged Teal
  • Spatula discors
  • Length: 15 – 17 in (38 – 43 cm)
  • Weight: 19.18 oz (544 g)
  • Wingspan: 23 – 31 in (58 – 79 cm)

This duck can also be seen in New York state throughout the year. But it is most common to see this species here over the winter months. They typically arrive here in mid-March and depart sometime in October.

Eurasian Wigeon

Eurasian Wigeon
  • Mareca penelope
  • Length: 18 – 20 in (46 – 51 cm)
  • Weight: 35.27 oz (1000 g)
  • Wingspan: 30 – 32 in (76 – 81 cm)

Though not particularly common in New York, these ducks can be seen in the west of the state throughout the year. The best time to spot them in this part of the state is in March, during spring migration.

Buffleheads

Buffleheads
  • Bucephala albeola
  • Length: 13 – 16 in (33 – 41 cm)
  • Weight: 21.16 oz (600 g)
  • Wingspan: 20 – 24 in (51 – 61 cm)

You can expect buffleheads to arrive in New York around mid-October. They are then present over the winter months, and most though not all individuals depart around May. Look for them in small ponds and lakes near poplar and aspen forests in the breeding season, and in protected coastal waters in the winter months.

Ring-necked Ducks

Ring-necked Ducks
  • Aythya collaris
  • Length: 14 – 18 in (36 – 46 cm)
  • Weight: 32.09 oz (909 g)
  • Wingspan: 24 – 30 in (61 – 76 cm)

Some ring-necked ducks can be seen in New York year-round. Typically, however, this is another duck to look out for in winter. They typically arrive in September and depart in May. Look for these ducks in small shallow ponds and on rivers, or lakes in forest settings.

Ruddy Ducks

Ruddy Duck
  • Oxyura jamaicensis
  • Length: 14 – 16 in (35.56 – 40.64 cm)
  • Weight: 28.04 oz (795 g)
  • Wingspan: 21 – 24 in (53 – 61 cm)

In western and southern New York, you can expect to see ruddy ducks. They will typically arrive in October and remain until April, though some do stay year-round. Look for them around the coastlines and saltwater estuaries and coastal bays in winter for the best chance of a sighting.

Greater Scaup

Greater Scaup
  • Aythya marila
  • 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)

Another winter bird to look out for in New York, these ducks can be seen in the state between October and April. They are recorded on 4% of the winter birdwatchers’ checklists for this area. Look for them on coastal waters, in bays, and along the shoreline in winter.

Lesser Scaup

Lesser Scaup
  • Aythya affinis
  • Length: 15 – 18 in (38 – 49 cm)
  • Weight: 40.77 oz (1155 g)
  • Wingspan: 24 – 33 in (61 – 84 cm)

These ducks have been sighted in this state throughout the whole of the year. But you are most likely to encounter them during the winter months, as they most typically arrive in around October and depart in around April. Again, look for them in groups on coastal waters and around the coastline in winter.

Redheads

Redhead
  • Aythya americana
  • Length: 18 – 22 in (46 – 56 cm)
  • Weight: 43.03 oz (1219 g)
  • Wingspan: 29 – 35 in (74 – 89 cm)

You are most likely to see these ducks in the south of the state and, though you can see them in this part of New York year-round, you are most likely to spot them during the winter months. For the best chance of a sighting, keep your eye on calm coastal waters between October and April.

Canvasbacks

Canvasbacks
  • Aythya valisineria
  • Length: 19 – 24 in (48 – 61 cm)
  • Weight: 58.48 oz (1657 g)
  • Wingspan: 28 – 36 in (71 – 91 cm)

These ducks are found on 1% of the winter birdwatchers’ checklists in New York. They tend to spend the winter in coastal waters or freshwater lakes and are typically present in this state between November and April.

Common Merganser

Common Merganser
  • Mergus merganser
  • Length: 22 – 27 in (56 – 69 cm)
  • Weight: 60.8 oz (1723 g)
  • Wingspan: 31 – 37 in (79 – 94 cm)

These sea ducks can be spotted in New York throughout the year. You are most likely to see them, however, between November and April. They are encountered in both freshwater and saltwater habitats.

Hooded Merganser

Hooded Merganser
  • Lophodytes cucullatus
  • Length: 16 – 19 in (41 – 48 cm)
  • Weight: 32.09 oz (909 g)
  • Wingspan: 24 – 26 in (61 – 66 cm)

Another year-round resident, the numbers of this duck also rise a lot during the winter, giving you a better chance to see them in New York. They are often seen in New York’s coastal inlets and bays over the winter months.

Red-breasted Merganser

Red-breasted Merganser
  • Mergus serrator
  • Length: 16 – 26 in (41 – 66 cm)
  • Weight: 47.61 oz (1349 g)
  • Wingspan: 31 – 35 in (79 – 89 cm)

Red-breasted merganser may sometimes remain in New York through the whole of the year. Most commonly, however, they spend only the winter here, arriving in October and remaining until around May.

These are not the only ducks that you might encounter in New York, but, if you are interested in ducks, seeking and identifying the various species above is a good place to start.

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Elizabeth Waddington

Elizabeth Waddington is a conservation, rewilding, organic gardening and sustainability specialist who loves everything nature-related. She loves helping others around the world connect with the wildlife and wonders around them. When not creating wildlife-wise, eco-friendly designs, or writing about the topics that inspire her, she loves spending time watching the birds on and around her own rural property, or heading out on camping or hiking adventures to spot birds and other wildlife in a range of habitats.