Are you curious about the black ducks in Michigan? Michigan is home to a diverse range of bird species, including various types of ducks. Black ducks are one of the species found in Michigan, known for their distinct characteristics and behavior.
In this article, we will explore the identification, calls, and season guide for black ducks in Michigan.
4 Black Ducks in Michigan
I am tracy smith As bird conservation experts, I have study many black ducks in Michigan. Here I provided a detailed guide about 4 Black Ducks in Michigan (diet, habitat, identification, appearances, ID, Calls, and Season Guide).
- American Black Duck
- Surf Scoter
- Lesser Scaup
- Black Scoter
1. American Black Duck
The American Black Duck (Anas rubripes) is a large dabbling duck found in eastern North America. Here below is the information in details:
Scientific name: Anas rubripes
ID: The American Black Duck is a species in the family Anatidae and the genus Anas. It is closely related to the Mallard and can interbreed with it.
Size: On average, the American Black Duck weighs between 720 and 1,640 grams (1.59-3.62 lb) and measures 54-59 cm (21-23 in) in length.
How to identify: The American Black Duck resembles the female Mallard in coloration, but its plumage is darker. Both males and females have brown heads, streaked brown cheeks and throat, and a dark eye. The male has a yellow bill, while the female’s bill is dull green with dark marks on the upper mandible. The speculum feathers on their wings are iridescent violet-blue with predominantly black margins. Juveniles have a browner appearance with broken narrow pale edges on their underpart feathers.
Diet: The American Black Duck has an omnivorous diet. It feeds on plant material such as seeds, leaves, roots, and berries, especially in freshwater habitats. In tidal zones, they may consume mussels, clams, snails, small crustaceans, and aquatic arthropods. Young ducklings primarily eat insects.
Habitat: American Black Ducks inhabit a variety of wetland habitats, including tidal marshes, freshwater wetlands, coastal wetlands, brackish marshes, estuaries, backwater ponds, and rivers lined by speckled alder. They can also be found in beaver ponds, shallow lakes with sedges and reeds, and forested swamps. During winter, they mostly inhabit brackish marshes, flooded timber, agricultural marshes, and riverine areas.
Lifespan: The lifespan of American Black Ducks is not explicitly mentioned in the provided information. However, some ducks in the Anatidae family can live up to 20 years or more depending on various factors such as predation, habitat quality, and availability of resources. Wingspan: The wingspan of the American Black Duck ranges from 88 to 95 cm (35-37 in).
Appearances: The American Black Duck has a dark brown body, brown head, streaked brown cheeks and throat, and a dark eye. The male has a yellow bill, while the female’s bill is dull green with dark marks on the upper mandible. The speculum feathers on their wings are iridescent violet-blue with predominantly black margins. The fleshy orange feet of the duck have dark webbing.
Calls: The specific calls of the American Black Duck are not mentioned in the provided information. However, duck vocalizations can include quacks, whistles, grunts, and various other sounds, depending on the species and circumstances. Season Guide for Black Ducks in Michigan: In Michigan, American Black Ducks can be found year-round, although they are more commonly seen during the breeding season and winter months. During breeding season, they are usually found in coastal and freshwater wetlands from the Great Lakes region to the Atlantic. In winter, they tend to inhabit coastal estuaries, tidal marshes, and some inland lakes.
2. Surf Scoter
Scientific Name: Melanitta perspicillata
ID: The Surf Scoter is a medium-sized sea duck with a sturdy neck, a large head, and a heavy, broad bill. Adult males are almost entirely black with characteristic white patches on the forehead and the nape. Adult females are slightly smaller and browner, with two white patches on the face, one behind the bill and the other behind the eye.
Size: Adult males have an average weight of 1,050 g (2.31 lb) and a length of 48 cm (19 in). Adult females have an average weight of 900 g (2.0 lb) and a length of 44 cm (17 in).
How to Identify: The Surf Scoter can be easily identified by the white patch on the head of the adult male and its unique bill pattern. Females and immatures have a bulkier bill with a squarish base and a more flattened head profile than other scoters. In flight, the Surf Scoter is the only one with completely dark wings.
Diet: Surf Scoters mainly feed on benthic invertebrates, with mussels representing an important part of their diet.
Habitat: During the breeding season, Surf Scoters can be found in Northern Canada and Alaska. They then migrate along the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of North America during the winter.
Lifespan: The lifespan of Surf Scoters is not specifically mentioned in the provided information.
Wingspan: The Surf Scoter has a wingspan of 29.9-30.3 in (76-77 cm).
Appearances: Adult males are almost entirely black with white patches on the forehead and the nape. Adult females are slightly smaller and browner, with white patches behind the bill and the eye. The bill of the male appears orange at a distance but is patterned with white, red, and yellow. The female has a black bill with green or blue colorations. Juveniles resemble the female but are paler and browner, with whitish breast and belly.
Calls: The specific calls of Surf Scoters are not mentioned in the provided information.
Season Guide: Surf Scoters breed in Northern Canada and Alaska and winter along the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of North America.
3. Lesser Scaup
Scientific Name: Aythya affinis
ID: The Lesser Scaup is a medium-sized diving duck with a small peak at the back of the head. The back of the head and neck is flat, not rounded as it is on the Greater Scaup. It is larger than a Green-winged Teal but smaller than a Canvasback.
Size: The length of a Lesser Scaup ranges from 15.3 to 18.1 inches (39-46 cm), and the weight varies from 16.0 to 38.4 ounces (454-1089 g). The wingspan is approximately 26.8 to 30.7 inches (68-78 cm).
How to Identify: The Lesser Scaup can be identified by its medium size, small peak at the back of the head, and a flat back of the head and neck. Males have a black, iridescent head, black breasts, whitish-grey backs and wings with darker vermiculations, and white underparts with olive vermiculations on the flanks. Females have a dark brown overall coloration with a white band at the base of the bill.
Diet: The diet of Lesser Scaups consists of mollusks such as clams and snails, aquatic insects, crustaceans, and various plant materials including sea lettuce, pondweeds, wild celery, and seeds of pondweeds, sedges, and grasses. In the Great Lakes region, they may feed heavily on the introduced zebra mussel.
Habitat: Lesser Scaups can be found in marsh ponds during the summer and on lakes, bays, estuaries, and inland freshwater lakes and ponds during winter. They overlap extensively with Greater Scaups but are more likely to be found on freshwater bodies inland during the winter.
Lifespan: The lifespan of Lesser Scaups in the wild is not well-documented, but they can live up to 13 years or more.
Wingspan: The wingspan of Lesser Scaups ranges from 26.8 to 30.7 inches (68-78 cm).
Appearances: Adult males (drakes) have a black, iridescent head with a small tuft at the hindcrown, black breasts, whitish-grey backs and wings with darker vermiculations, white underparts with olive vermiculations on the flanks, and black rectrices and tail coverts. Adult females (hens) have a white band at the base of the bill, often a lighter ear region, and are otherwise dark brown all over, shading to white on the mid-belly. Immature birds resemble adult females but are duller and have minimal white at the bill base. Both sexes have white secondary remiges, a blue-grey bill with a small black “nail” at the tip, and grey feet. The drakes have a bright yellow iris, while the females’ iris color ranges from orange to yellow.
Calls: The vocalizations of Lesser Scaups include a variety of sounds such as raspy croaks and grunts, particularly during courtship and territorial displays. The male’s call is described as a hoarse “krrrrrr” or “prrook”.
Season Guide: Lesser Scaups migrate south during the winter, reaching as far as Central America. They can be found on large lakes such as the Great Lakes and smaller wetlands from September through March.
4. Black Scoter
Scientific Name: Melanitta americana
ID: The Black Scoter is a large sea duck with a stocky, bulky shape. The adult male is entirely black with a bulbous yellow bill, while the adult female is brown with pale cheeks. It can be distinguished from other scoters by the lack of white anywhere on the male and the more extensive pale areas on the female. The male Black Scoter also has a rounded knob at the base of the bill.
Size: The average length of an adult male Black Scoter is about 49 cm (19 in), and it weighs around 1,100 g (2.4 lb). The adult female is approximately 45 cm (18 in) in length and weighs around 980 g (2.16 lb).
How to Identify: The Black Scoter can be identified by its bulky shape, all-black plumage in males, large bulbous yellow bill in males, and brown coloration with pale cheeks in females. It lacks white anywhere on the male and has more extensive pale areas on the female.
Diet: Black Scoters dive for crustaceans and mollusks, feeding on them while migrating or wintering on sea coasts. They also consume insects and their larvae, particularly caddisflies, fish eggs, and occasionally vegetation such as duckweed when nesting in freshwater.
Habitat: The Black Scoter breeds in the far north of North America, specifically in Labrador and Newfoundland to the southeast and northwest of Hudson Bay. It can also be found on the Siberian side of the Bering Straits. During winter, it migrates to temperate zones, including the coasts of northern USA and Canada, the Pacific coast south to the San Francisco Bay region, the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts, and even as far south as China in Asia. Some individuals may over-winter on the Great Lakes. Although it is a rare vagrant, drakes (males) can be safely identified even outside their normal range, while females are less likely to be detected.
Lifespan: The lifespan of Black Scoters in the wild is not well-documented, but they can live for several years.
Wingspan: The wingspan of Black Scoters ranges from 27.6 to 28.4 inches (70-72 cm).
Appearances: Adult males (drakes) of the Black Scoter are entirely black with a rounded knob at the base of the bill. They have a bulky shape and a large bulbous yellow bill. The adult females are brown with pale cheeks, similar to female common scoters. The female Black Scoters have more extensive pale areas compared to other scoters.
Calls: The Black Scoter has distinct vocalizations, with diagnosably distinct vocalizations from the common scoter.
Season Guide: Black Scoters breed in the far north of North America during the summer. They migrate south during winter and can be found along the coasts of the northern USA and Canada, as well as on the Great Lakes. Some individuals also winter in Asia as far south as China. The breeding season occurs later than most other ducks in North America, with pairs forming in late winter or spring.
Black ducks exhibit different patterns of occurrence throughout the year in Michigan. Here is a breakdown of their seasonal presence:
- Year-round: Black ducks can be found in Michigan throughout the year.
- Summer: During the summer months, black ducks are less frequently observed in Michigan.
- Winter: Black ducks are more commonly seen in Michigan during the winter season.
- Migration: Black ducks may be encountered during migration periods as they move to and from their breeding grounds.
It’s important to note that these patterns can vary based on factors such as weather conditions and habitat availability.
Q1: Are black ducks endangered?
A1: Black ducks are not considered endangered. Their populations have been relatively stable, although localized declines have been observed in some areas.
Q2: Can black ducks fly long distances?
A2: Yes, black ducks are capable of flying long distances during migration. They cover significant distances to reach their breeding and wintering grounds.
Q3: Can black ducks be kept as pets?
A3: While black ducks can be captivating to observe in the wild, they are not suitable as pets.
Black ducks, particularly the American black duck, are captivating waterfowls native to eastern North America. Despite sharing similarities with mallards, they possess distinct characteristics that make them unique. While some populations are facing challenges, efforts are being made to protect their habitat and ensure their long-term survival. Understanding and appreciating these remarkable birds is crucial for their conservation and the preservation of biodiversity.
We hope this comprehensive guide has provided you with valuable insights into black ducks in Michigan, specifically the American black duck. Feel free to explore more about these fascinating waterfowls and their conservation efforts to contribute to their preservation.