American Black Duck

The American Black Duck (Anas rubripes) is a medium-sized dabbling duck.

The adult male has a yellow bill, a dark body, lighter head and neck, orange legs and dark eyes. The adult female has a similar appearance. Both sexes have a shiny purple-blue wing patch, which is not bordered with white like the Mallard.

Their breeding habitat is found in lakes, ponds, rivers, marshes and other aquatic environments in eastern Canada including the Great Lakes. Black ducks interbreed regularly and extensively with Mallard ducks, to which they are closely related; some authorities consider that the Black Duck is no more than a dark-plumaged race of Mallard, not a separate species at all. The behavior and voice are the same as for Mallard.

In the past, Black Ducks and Mallards were separated by habitat, with the dark-plumaged Black Ducks having a selective advantage in shaded forest pools in eastern North America, and the lighter plumaged Mallards in the brighter, more open prairie and plains lakes. In recent times, deforestation in the east, and tree planting on the plains, has broken down this habitat separation, leading to the high levels of hybridization now seen.

They are partially migratory and many winter in the east-central United States, especially coastal areas; some remain year-round in the Great Lakes region.

This duck is a rare to Great Britain, where, over the years, several birds have settled in and bred with the local Mallards. The resulting hybrids can present considerable identification difficulties.

Black Ducks lay 6-14 greenish buff-colored eggs which hatch in an average of 30 days.

These birds feed by dabbling in shallow water, and grazing on land. They mainly eat plants, but also some mollusks and aquatic insects.