American Black Duck
|Conservation status||Still abundant locally, but has declined drastically in interior parts of range. Clearing of forest has favored invasion by Mallards, which hybridize extensively with Black Ducks, leading to genetic "swamping" of population.|
|Family||Ducks and Geese|
|Habitat||Marshes, bays, estuaries, ponds, rivers, lakes. Wide variety of aquatic habitats; found on lakes in northern forest and in salt marsh more often than most dabblers. Majority in winter in coastal estuaries and tidal marshes, lesser numbers on inland lakes, tree-lined ponds, wooded swamps.|
feeds in water by dabbling, up-ending, rarely by diving; feeds on land by grazing, plucking seeds, grubbing for roots.
7-11, sometimes 6-12, rarely 4-17. Creamy white to greenish buff. Incubation by female only, 23-33 days, typically 26-29. Young: all eggs typically hatch in space of a few hours. Female leads young to water, often after dark. Ducklings find their own food. Young fledge at age of about 2 months, and are abandoned by female about that time.
all eggs typically hatch in space of a few hours. Female leads young to water, often after dark. Ducklings find their own food. Young fledge at age of about 2 months, and are abandoned by female about that time.
omnivorous. Diet varies with location and season. On fresh water, feeds mainly on plant material, including seeds, leaves, roots, berries. Seeds of various grasses, pondweeds, sedges, and others often a major part of diet. In tidal zones may feed mainly on mussels, clams, snails, small crustaceans, aquatic arthropods. Young ducklings eat many insects.
Older birds may form pairs by early fall and remain together until following summer. Nest site variable; usually near water, as on banks or small islands, but can be up to a mile distant. Generally on ground among clumps of dense vegetation, sometimes in raised situation as on top of stump, in large tree cavity, on duck blind in water. Typical ground nest (built by female) is a shallow depression with plant material added, lined with down.
Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
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Those breeding in northern interior may migrate long distances, but coastal and southerly birds may move only short distances. Fall migration is often late in season, as waters freeze or food supply is depleted. Much of migration apparently occurs at night.
- All Seasons - Common
- All Seasons - Uncommon
- Breeding - Common
- Breeding - Uncommon
- Winter - Common
- Winter - Uncommon
- Migration - Common
- Migration - Uncommon
See a fully interactive migration map for this species on the Bird Migration Explorer.Learn more
Songs and CallsTypical duck quack.
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How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the American Black Duck
Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect this bird’s range in the future.
Zoom in to see how this species’s current range will shift, expand, and contract under increased global temperatures.
Climate threats facing the American Black Duck
Choose a temperature scenario below to see which threats will affect this species as warming increases. The same climate change-driven threats that put birds at risk will affect other wildlife and people, too.