Ducks are a migratory bird species that navigate great distances in search of a suitable habitat during fall, winter and spring seasons. In response to extreme weather conditions and heightened danger, flocks of ducks will seemingly disappear overnight from one region and travel to another in search of safety. Several duck species populate the Midwestern United States, including Mallard, Green-winged Teal and Wood ducks.
The beloved mallard duck species can be easily spotted paddling in shallow marshes, nesting near wetlands, flying over farms and feeding in rivers. The male mallard is identifiable by his bright, green head with a dramatic white ring around his neck. The female plumage is a muted brown, camouflaging her from possible dangers. She is a vocal duck species, repeating quacks in a sequence. Both male and female mallards have a dull-colored yellow bill and bright coral, webbed feet. The mallard will feed on water rootlets and tubers and launch into flight with one strong lift. As the most common duck species in the United States, mallards have a healthy, robust bird population.
Green-Winged Teal Duck
Green-winged teals breed in many Midwestern states, including Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin. The female will nest as many as nine eggs near an established water source, such as a pond. Ducklings emerge fluffy in down and remain under her care for only a short period of time. The female is identifiable by her muted brown body and a thin, dark line lengthened across her face, from her bill to her eye. The male green-winged teal displays a magnificent green and amber-colored head. They will feed on plentiful water insects, seeds and plants found while foraging along the bottom of ponds and marshes. Both males and females have muted-toned bills and feet, a yellow stripe along the tail, remain quiet unless threatened and are the tiniest of all North American ducks, growing to less than 15 inches long and weighing slightly more than half a pound.
Perhaps the most striking of all North American ducks is the wood duck. This colorful species frequents Midwestern states throughout the entire year, and is the only duck species on the continent that will nest in trees. The colorful markings of black, green, brown and red are unmistakable identifications of a male wood duck during breeding season, while females reflect more muted tones and patterns in contract with white-flecked feathers. The wood duck nestles into wooded areas along a freshwater source, such as a swamp, pond or lake, where it can find aquatic insects, acorns and native fruits for food. The female will lay as many as 12 glossy-white eggs in preexisting tree cavities or conservation nest boxes that are near the water's edge.