23 Ducks in Michigan (With Pictures)

23 Ducks in Michigan (With Pictures)

Michigan’s diverse ecosystems provide a perfect backdrop for the vibrant and varied duck populations that grace its waters. From the bustling Great Lakes shores to the tranquil inland marshes, the state hosts an impressive array of ducks, each with unique behaviours and habitats.

This introduction sets the stage for an exploration of the 23 types of ducks that can be found in Michigan, showcasing the rich avian biodiversity that makes the state a haven for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts alike. Through this article, we aim to highlight the beauty and ecological significance of these waterfowl, offering insights into their lifestyles, migration patterns, and the best spots for observation.

Join us as we delve into the fascinating world of Michigan’s ducks, a testament to the state’s natural wonders and a call to preserve these spectacular creatures for future generations.

1. Mallard

  • Scientific name: Anas platyrhynchos
  • Life span: 5-10 years
  • Size: 50-65 cm (20-26 in)
  • Weight: 700-1600 g (1.5-3.5 lb)
  • Wingspan: 81-98 cm (32-39 in)
  • Status: Least Concern
  • State status: Breeding and common

A staple in North American waterways, the Mallard boasts a distinctive green head in males and mottled brown plumage in females, thriving in both wild and urban settings from coast to coast.


The Mallard, a canvas of nature’s art, crafts its nest in a concealed, snug spot on the ground, often veiled by vegetation not far from water. The female weaves a cozy cradle, lining it with down plucked from her breast, ensuring a warm, hidden refuge for her eggs. This meticulous care in nest placement shields her brood from predators and the elements, a testament to the Mallard’s maternal instinct.

Gliding gracefully across ponds and lakes, the Mallard indulges in a buffet of aquatic plants, seeds, and small invertebrates. This versatile feeder dabbles at the water’s surface, tipping forward to graze on underwater fare. In the ballet of survival, they sometimes venture onto land, seeking grains and insects, showcasing their adaptable palate.

Thriving in diverse habitats, the Mallard’s tale is one of resilience and adaptability. Conservation efforts for the Mallard focus on habitat restoration and protection, ensuring the preservation of wetlands crucial for their nesting and feeding. Public education campaigns and regulated hunting maintain their populations, highlighting humanity’s role in safeguarding these vibrant waterfowl.

2. Northern Pintail

  • Scientific name: Anas acuta
  • Life span: 10-15 years
  • Size: 56-66 cm (22-26 in)
  • Weight: 450-1150 g (1-2.5 lbs)
  • Wingspan: 80-95 cm (31-38 in)
  • Status: Least Concern
  • State status: Migratory and common

Elegant with a slender neck, the Northern Pintail is a migratory species seen across the U.S. during different seasons. Males feature a striking white breast and a chocolate-brown head.

Northern Pintail

The Northern Pintail, with its elegant silhouette, chooses the openness of the ground for its nesting site, often far from water’s edge. The female meticulously camouflages her nest among tall grasses, using local vegetation and down. This strategic placement and camouflage safeguard her precious clutch from prying predators.

Skimming the water’s surface or grazing in agricultural fields, the Northern Pintail’s diet is as diverse as its habitats. This bird delights in seeds, aquatic vegetation, and invertebrates, demonstrating its adaptability. Their feeding habits, often in flocks, underscore the Northern Pintail’s role in the ecosystem as both consumer and seed disperser.

The grace of the Northern Pintail belies the challenges it faces, from habitat degradation to hunting pressures. Conservation initiatives aimed at wetland restoration and sustainable hunting practices are vital in ensuring the pintail’s graceful flight continues to adorn the skies. These efforts are a testament to the importance of collaborative conservation strategies.

3. Northern Shoveler

  • Scientific name: Spatula clypeata
  • Life span: 10-15 years          
  • Size: 43-53 cm (17-21 in)
  • Weight: 400-1100 g (0.88-2.4 lb)
  • Wingspan: 74-86 cm (29-34 in)
  • Status: Least Concern
  • State status: Breeding and common

Known for its oversized bill, this duck inhabits wetlands across the U.S., with males showcasing a vibrant green head and females a camouflaged brown, both featuring striking white chest patches.

Northern Shoveler

The Northern Shoveler, with its distinctive large bill, nests on the ground in dense cover, often far from water. The female creates a shallow depression, lining it with vegetation and down, creating a hidden sanctuary for her eggs, showcasing her instinctual drive to nurture and protect.

The Northern Shoveler’s large bill serves as a sieve for filtering small aquatic invertebrates and seeds from the water, a unique feeding strategy among ducks. This specialized diet allows them to thrive in a variety of wetland habitats, contributing to the ecological balance by controlling insect populations and seed dispersal.

The focus of conservation efforts for the Northern Shoveler includes the protection of wetland habitats and the promotion of sustainable agricultural practices. By safeguarding the ecosystems, they depend on, conservationists aim to ensure the future of these uniquely adapted birds, underscoring the interconnectedness of human activities and wildlife conservation.

4. American Wigeon

  • Scientific name: Mareca americana
  • Life span: 12-15 years
  • Size: 42-59 cm (17-23 in)
  • Weight: 600-1200 g (1.3-2.6 lb)
  • Wingspan: 76-91 cm (30-36 in)
  • Status: Least Concern
  • State status: Migratory and common

A bird of open waters across North America, the American Wigeon has a unique white stripe on its head for males, while females wear a more demure, speckled brown plumage.

American Wigeon

The American Wigeon, with its whistle-like call, nests on the ground hidden among tall grasses or under the shelter of bushes. The female intricately lines her nest with down, creating a soft, warm environment for her eggs. This careful choice of location and construction reflects a strong instinct to protect and nurture.

American Wigeons are known for their eclectic taste, feeding on a mix of aquatic plants, grasses, and occasionally small invertebrates. They often feed on land, showcasing a versatile foraging behaviour that allows them to take advantage of different ecosystems, which plays a crucial role in their survival and distribution.

Conservation efforts for the American Wigeon focus on preserving wetlands and upland habitats. Through initiatives that protect critical breeding and wintering areas, environmentalists aim to ensure that these colourful ducks continue to grace our waters. Education and habitat restoration projects are key to sustaining their populations.

5. Wood Duck

  • Scientific name: Aix sponsa
  • Life span: 5-10 years
  • Size: 48-54 cm (19-21 in)
  • Weight: 454-862 g (1-1.9 lb)
  • Wingspan: 66-73 cm (26-29 in)
  • Status: Least Concern
  • State status: Breeding and common

Inhabiting America’s wooded ponds, the Wood Duck is arguably the continent’s most splendid waterfowl, with males displaying iridescent plumage and females a refined, crested gray-brown.

Wood Duck

The Wood Duck, a jewel among birds, nests in tree cavities near water bodies, showcasing an enchanting blend of nature’s architecture and avian instinct. The female lines the nest with down, creating a soft, warm haven for her eggs. This choice of nesting site not only protects the eggs from ground predators but also illustrates the adaptability and resourcefulness of these ducks.

With a diet as colourful as its plumage, the Wood Duck feeds on seeds, fruits, insects, and aquatic plants. This varied diet reflects the bird’s ability to exploit different ecological niches, from forested wetlands to streams, highlighting its role in the ecosystem as both a seed disperser and a consumer of invertebrates.

The conservation story of the Wood Duck is a triumphant narrative of recovery, thanks to dedicated efforts in habitat protection and the provision of artificial nesting boxes. These strategies have significantly boosted their populations, turning the Wood Duck into a conservation success story and a beacon of hope for other species.

6. Blue-winged Teal

  • Scientific name: Spatula discors
  • Life span: 5-10 years
  • Size: 40-47 cm (16-19 in)
  • Weight: 280-420 g (9.9-14.8 oz)
  • Wingspan: 58-63 cm (23-25 in)
  • Status: Least Concern
  • State status: Breeding and common

Small and swift, this species favours the southern and central U.S., recognizable by the bold blue patch on its wings, contrasting against the brown body in both sexes.

Blue-winged Teal

The Blue-winged Teal selects a concealed spot on the ground, often in tall grass or amid reeds, to lay her eggs. The nest, while simple, is a masterpiece of camouflage and insulation, lined with down plucked from the female’s breast, ensuring the safety and warmth of her brood.

With a diet that skims the surface between vegetarian and carnivore, the Blue-winged Teal feeds on aquatic plants, seeds, and small invertebrates. This diet reflects the bird’s adaptability to its environment, capable of thriving in a variety of wetlands by making the most of available food sources.

The Blue-winged Teal benefits from concerted conservation efforts aimed at preserving wetland habitats. By maintaining the health and accessibility of these critical areas, conservationists help ensure that the teal’s migration and breeding needs are met, highlighting the importance of international cooperation in bird conservation.

7. Gadwall

  • Scientific name: Mareca strepera
  • Life span: 5-10 years
  • Size: 46-56 cm (18-22 in)
  • Weight: 800-1,350 g (1.8-3.0 lb)
  • Wingspan: 81-95 cm (32-37 in)
  • Status: Least Concern
  • State status: Breeding and common

Found throughout North America’s ponds and lakes, the Gadwall is subtly handsome, with males donning a mottled gray body and females a softer brown, both sporting a black rear patch.


Gadwalls, the understated artisans of the avian world, prefer the seclusion of dense marsh vegetation for their nesting sites. The female artfully constructs her nest on the ground, blending it seamlessly with the surrounding environment and lining it with down from her breast. This careful preparation ensures a secure haven for her future offspring.

Gadwalls have a palate that appreciates the finer details of aquatic cuisine, primarily dining on plant material. They dabble and upend in the water to graze on submerged vegetation, demonstrating a preference for the subtle flavours of life beneath the surface. This diet underscores their role in maintaining healthy waterways.

The Gadwall story is one of conservation success, with populations remaining stable due to concerted habitat conservation efforts. Wetland preservation and the careful management of water levels create a mosaic of habitats conducive to their breeding and feeding needs, showcasing a harmonious balance between human intervention and natural processes.

8. Green-winged Teal

  • Scientific name: Anas crecca
  • Life span: 5-10 years
  • Size: 33-38 cm (13-15 in)
  • Weight: 150-400 g (5.3-14.1 oz)
  • Wingspan: 53-59 cm (21-23 in)
  • Status: Least Concern
  • State status: Migratory and common

The smallest of North American ducks, it frequents marshes and ponds nationwide, males with a chestnut head and a green eye patch, and females in a modest brown.

Green-winged Teal

The Green-winged Teal, the smallest of our dabbling ducks, prefers the seclusion of dense grasses or shrubs near water for its nesting site. The female intricately weaves a nest on the ground, concealing it with vegetation and lining it with down, ensuring a protective cradle for her eggs.

Agile and resourceful, the Green-winged Teal feeds on a mix of aquatic vegetation, seeds, and small invertebrates. This diet showcases the bird’s adaptability to seasonal changes and available food sources, underlining the importance of diverse, healthy wetlands for their sustenance and survival.

Conservation efforts for the Green-winged Teal focus on maintaining and restoring wetland habitats, crucial for their breeding and wintering needs. Initiatives that protect these vital ecosystems contribute to the stability of their populations, emphasizing the critical role of wetlands in supporting biodiversity.

9. American Black Duck

  • Scientific name: Anas rubripes
  • Life span: 5-10 years
  • Size: 54-63 cm (21-25 in)
  • Weight: 727-1,380 g (1.6-3 lb)
  • Wingspan: 91-102 cm (36-40 in)
  • Status: Least Concern
  • State status: Breeding and common

Preferring the eastern U.S. woodlands and marshes, this duck has darker feathers than the Mallard, with males and females sharing similar sooty-brown colouration, blending seamlessly into their surroundings.

American Black Duck

In the quietude of dense marsh vegetation or the shelter of a woodland floor, the American Black Duck meticulously constructs its nest. The female selects a secluded spot, crafting her nest from plant material and lining it with down. This hidden nursery is where she will lay and vigilantly guard her eggs, a symbol of her unwavering dedication to her offspring.

Foraging in the shallow waters with a preference for the cover of dawn or dusk, the American Black Duck feeds on a variety of aquatic plants, seeds, and small invertebrates. Their diet reflects the bounty of their wetland homes, showcasing the interconnectedness of these ecosystems.

The American Black Duck’s story is woven with challenges, facing habitat loss and competition from the encroaching Mallard populations. Conservationists have rallied, implementing measures to protect vital wetland habitats and monitor population dynamics. These efforts underscore the importance of maintaining biodiversity and the delicate balance within aquatic ecosystems.

10. Ring-necked Duck

  • Scientific name: Aythya collaris
  • Life span: 5-10 years
  • Size: 39-46 cm (15-18 in)
  • Weight: 680-1,360 g (1.5-3 lb)
  • Wingspan: 63-76 cm (25-30 in)
  • Status: Least Concern
  • State status: Migratory and common

Despite its misleading name, this species is more easily identified by its bold white ring on the bill and angular head shape, frequenting lakes and ponds across the U.S.

Ring-necked Duck

The Ring-necked Duck, a dapper diver with a subtle neckband, selects secluded wetlands for its nesting sites. The female crafts her nest in dense vegetation close to water, using plant material and down to create a safe and warm environment for her eggs, a testament to her commitment to her offspring’s security.

Predominantly feeding on aquatic vegetation, seeds, and invertebrates, the Ring-necked Duck’s diet reflects its adaptation to life in freshwater habitats. This varied diet helps maintain the health of wetland ecosystems, with the ducks acting as vital links in the aquatic food chain.

The Ring-necked Duck benefits from efforts aimed at conserving wetland habitats, crucial for their breeding and foraging. Conservation initiatives focus on the protection and restoration of these habitats, highlighting the importance of healthy aquatic ecosystems for the diversity of life they support.

11. Redhead

  • Scientific name: Aythya americana
  • Life span: 10-15 years
  • Size: 42-49 cm (17-19 in)
  • Weight: 850-1,600 g (1.9-3.5 lb)
  • Wingspan: 76-84 cm (30-33 in)
  • Status: Least Concern
  • State status: Migratory and common

Favored by freshwater marshes across North America, the Redhead features a namesake crimson head on males, with both sexes sporting a blue bill and a sleek profile.


The Redhead, known for its striking crimson head, often nests in marshes, using reeds and grasses to construct a floating base for its nest. The female lines this floating fortress with down, ensuring a secure and warm environment for her eggs, illustrating an ingenious adaptation to wetland life.

The diet of the Redhead includes a variety of aquatic plants and invertebrates, showcasing their ability to adapt to the offerings of their habitat. This flexibility in diet allows them to thrive in a variety of wetland environments, from shallow lakes to marshes, playing a critical role in the aquatic food web.

Conservation efforts for the Redhead are centered around the preservation of wetland habitats, crucial for their nesting and foraging needs. Initiatives aimed at combating wetland degradation and ensuring sustainable water use practices help safeguard the future of this vibrant species, emphasizing the interconnectedness of human actions and wildlife well-being.

12. Bufflehead

  • Scientific name: Bucephala albeola
  • Life span: 12-15 years
  • Size: 32-40 cm (13-16 in)
  • Weight: 270-550 g (9.5-19.4 oz)
  • Wingspan: 46-54 cm (18-21 in)
  • Status: Least Concern
  • State status: Migratory and common

This small, buoyant duck prefers North America’s lakes and sheltered bays, with males wearing a large white patch on their dark head, and females a more muted colour scheme.


The Bufflehead, a small and spirited diver, also prefers nesting in tree cavities near water bodies. The female transforms these cavities into nurseries with a bed of down, ensuring a safe and warm environment for her brood. This reliance on tree cavities highlights the critical role of woodland conservation in their lifecycle.

Feeding mainly on crustaceans and insects by diving underwater, the Bufflehead’s diet reflects its specialized foraging skills. This dietary preference plays a significant role in maintaining the ecological balance within their aquatic habitats, showcasing the interconnectedness of species within ecosystems.

Buffleheads benefit from conservation strategies that focus on preserving and restoring their breeding and wintering habitats. Efforts to provide nesting boxes in areas where natural cavities are scarce have proven successful, highlighting innovative approaches to conservation that can ensure the survival of species.

13. Ruddy Duck

  • Scientific name: Oxyura jamaicensis
  • Life span: 6-8 years
  • Size: 36-43 cm (14-17 in)
  • Weight: 430-790 g (0.95-1.74 lb)
  • Wingspan: 61-74 cm (24-29 in)
  • Status: Least Concern
  • State status: Breeding and common

Occupying marshes and ponds, known for its stiff tail and blue bill in breeding season, males have a brilliant chestnut body, while females wear a more conservative brown.

Ruddy Duck

The Ruddy Duck, known for its bold blue bill and compact build, constructs its nest in dense marsh vegetation, floating it on water to evade predators. The female intricately weaves and camouflages her nest, demonstrating a remarkable adaptation to life in reedy wetlands.

Primarily feeding on seeds and roots of aquatic plants, along with small invertebrates, the Ruddy Duck’s diet reflects its habitat’s richness. This feeding behaviour plays a role in the dispersal of aquatic plant seeds, contributing to the health and diversity of wetland ecosystems.

Efforts to conserve the Ruddy Duck focus on wetland conservation and management, ensuring the preservation of their breeding and foraging habitats. Restoration projects and pollution control measures are crucial for sustaining healthy populations, highlighting the critical role of wetlands in supporting diverse bird species.

14. Canvasback

  • Scientific name: Aythya valisineria
  • Life span: 10-15 years
  • Size: 48-56 cm (19-22 in)
  • Weight: 1,270-1,800 g (2.8-4 lb)
  • Wingspan: 84-89 cm (33-35 in)
  • Status: Vulnerable
  • State status: Migratory and common

With a preference for the northern U.S. lakes and coastal bays, the Canvasback has a distinctive sloping profile, males with white bodies and black chests, and females in a softer gray.


The Canvasback, with its distinctive sloping profile, opts for the dense reeds and grasses of marshlands to construct its nest. The female meticulously builds her nest on platforms of vegetation, floating in shallow water, a strategy that provides a fortress against predators and the elements.

A connoisseur of aquatic tubers, the Canvasback dives deep to forage on roots and bulbs of submerged plants, along with snails and insects. This diet, rich in energy, supports their strenuous migratory and breeding activities, reflecting the bird’s deep connection to the health of underwater plant communities.

The Canvasback faces challenges from habitat loss and pollution, prompting concerted conservation efforts. Actions to improve water quality and manage wetlands sustainably are crucial for their survival, highlighting the importance of clean, healthy aquatic ecosystems for the future of this majestic diver.

15. Greater Scaup

  • Scientific name: Aythya marila
  • Life span: 10-20 years
  • Size: 41-51 cm (16-20 in)
  • Weight: 900-1,600 g (2-3.5 lb)
  • Wingspan: 81-87 cm (32-34 in)
  • Status: Least Concern
  • State status: Migratory and common

Found in northern U.S. waters, the Greater Scaup is a diving duck with males showing off glossy green-black heads and females a brown, more understated appearance.

Greater Scaup

The Greater Scaup, often found in the northern climes, makes its nest on the ground near water. The female lines a shallow depression with down, creating a snug, insulated nest that shields her eggs from the cold, embodying the harsh beauty of the landscapes they inhabit.

With a preference for shellfish, the Greater Scaup’s diet is a testament to its prowess as a diver, foraging in deeper waters than most ducks. This diet underscores the scaup’s important role in controlling aquatic invertebrate populations and the health of marine ecosystems.

Conservation efforts for the Greater Scaup focus on addressing challenges like habitat loss and pollution, particularly in their breeding grounds in the Arctic and wintering areas along coasts. Protecting these critical habitats ensures the survival of this species, reflecting the global nature of bird conservation.

16. Lesser Scaup

  • Scientific name: Aythya affinis
  • Life span: 12-15 years
  • Size: 38-48 cm (15-19 in)
  • Weight: 400-1000 g (0.88-2.2 lb)
  • Wingspan: 64-74 cm (25-29 in)
  • Status: Least Concern
  • State status: Migratory and common

Similar habitats to its greater counterpart, but more common in the U.S., the Lesser Scaup males also display dark heads and bright eyes, with females in brown.  

Lesser Scaup

The Lesser Scaup, similar to its larger counterpart, chooses secluded spots near water to lay its eggs. The female’s nest, hidden among vegetation, is a carefully constructed bowl lined with down, ensuring her eggs are well-protected from predators and the elements.

The diet of the Lesser Scaup is diverse, ranging from aquatic invertebrates to plant material. This adaptability in feeding habits allows them to thrive across a wide range of wetland habitats, highlighting their role in aquatic ecosystems as both predator and herbivore.

The conservation story of the Lesser Scaup is one of monitoring and habitat management, with a focus on preserving the quality and availability of wetlands. Efforts to understand the drivers behind their population fluctuations are crucial for developing effective conservation strategies.

17. Hooded Merganser

  • Scientific name: Lophodytes cucullatus
  • Life span: 6-12 years
  • Size: 40-49 cm (16-19 in)
  • Weight: 400-700 g (0.88-1.54 lb)
  • Wingspan: 63-76 cm (25-30 in)
  • Status: Least Concern
  • State status: Breeding and common

With a distinctive crest and found in wooded ponds of the U.S., males have a striking white crest, while females are more subdued with a tawny crest.

Hooded Merganser

The Hooded Merganser, with its striking crest, opts for tree cavities near waterways to nest, a choice that speaks to its preference for the security and seclusion these natural nooks offer. The female lines the cavity with her own down, creating a snug, insulated environment for her eggs.

Specializing in small fish and aquatic invertebrates, the Hooded Merganser is a skilled diver, navigating the underwater world with agility. This diet highlights their role as predators within aquatic ecosystems, contributing to the balance of species populations and the health of their habitats.

Conservation efforts for the Hooded Merganser emphasize the preservation of forested wetlands and the provision of artificial nesting structures to compensate for habitat loss. These initiatives have helped maintain stable populations, showcasing the impact of targeted conservation strategies on species recovery.

18. Red-breasted Merganser

  • Scientific name: Mergus serrator
  • Life span: 9-14 years
  • Size: 54-62 cm (21-24 in)
  • Weight: 700-1,600 g (1.5-3.5 lb)
  • Wingspan: 66-81 cm (26-32 in)
  • Status: Least Concern
  • State status: Migratory and common

Preferring coastal waters, this duck is noted for its thin, spiky crest, with males sporting a dark head and red chest, and females a more uniform gray-brown.

Red-breasted Merganser

The Red-breasted Merganser, with its distinctive spiky crest, nests on the ground near water, often in sheltered locations among vegetation. The nest, made from plant material and lined with down, reflects the female’s instinct to provide warmth and camouflage for her eggs, balancing vulnerability with a fierce protective instinct.

This species is a proficient hunter of small fish and aquatic invertebrates, showcasing remarkable diving skills. The Red-breasted Merganser’s diet underscores its importance in maintaining healthy fish populations and aquatic ecosystems, serving as a natural regulator of its aquatic environment.

Conservation strategies for the Red-breasted Merganser focus on protecting coastal and freshwater habitats, crucial for their breeding and wintering needs. Efforts to mitigate pollution and ensure sustainable fishing practices are vital for maintaining the health of the ecosystems these birds depend on.

19. Black Scoter

  • Scientific name: Melanitta americana
  • Life span: 10-15 years
  • Size: 43-54 cm (17-21 in)
  • Weight: 30.4-38.8 oz (862-1100 g)
  • Wingspan: 79-91 cm (31-36 in)
  • Status: Least Concern
  • State status: Migratory and rare

A sea duck, rare and more often found off the coasts, males are entirely black with a distinctive bill knob, and females are a dusky brown.

Black Scoter

The Black Scoter, a sea duck with a preference for coastal habitats, nests on the ground in dense vegetation near water in its northern breeding grounds. The nest, a simple depression lined with down, offers warmth and concealment for the eggs, a strategy reflecting the harshness and beauty of their arctic and boreal habitats.

Specializing in mollusks and crustaceans, the Black Scoter’s diet is closely tied to its marine environment. This dietary preference underscores the importance of clean, productive coastal waters for their survival, highlighting the scoter’s role in marine ecosystem health.

Conservation initiatives for the Black Scoter include monitoring populations and protecting critical coastal and marine habitats. Efforts to address pollution, climate change, and habitat disruption are vital for ensuring the sustainability of this species, emphasizing the global challenge of conserving marine biodiversity.

20. Surf Scoter

  • Scientific name: Melanitta perspicillata
  • Life span: 10-20 years
  • Size: 45-54 cm (18-21 in)
  • Weight: 710-1,980 g (1.6-4.4 lb)
  • Wingspan: 76-91 cm (30-36 in)
  • Status: Least Concern
  • State status: Migratory and rare

The Surf Scoter, predominantly found along North America’s coasts, showcases a dramatic black plumage. Males are notable for their colourful, bulbous bills, setting them apart in the sea duck realm, while females display a more subdued brown with a similarly distinctive bill shape.     

Surf Scoter

The Surf Scoter, with its distinctive multi-coloured bill, nests on the ground in secluded areas of boreal forests, far from its wintering coastal waters. The female’s dedication to creating a concealed nest among dense underbrush showcases an instinctive commitment to the next generation’s security.

Feeding primarily on marine invertebrates, especially mollusks, the Surf Scoter’s diet reflects its strong connection to coastal and marine ecosystems. Their foraging habits contribute to the health of marine environments, demonstrating the ecological role of sea ducks in nutrient cycling and energy flow.

The conservation of the Surf Scoter involves protecting marine and coastal environments from pollution, industrial development, and oil spills. Initiatives aimed at preserving these critical habitats are essential for the survival of this and many other marine-dependent species, highlighting the interconnected nature of ocean health and biodiversity.

21. Common Goldeneye

  • Scientific name: Bucephala clangula
  • Life span: 6-12 years
  • Size: 40-51 cm (16-20 in)
  • Weight: 800-1,550 g (1.8-3.4 lb)
  • Wingspan: 66-81 cm (26-32 in)
  • Status: Least Concern
  • State status: Migratory and common

Occupying northern lakes and rivers, the Common Goldeneye is striking, with males flaunting glossy green heads and a white body, and females a chocolate brown.

Common Goldeneye

The Common Goldeneye is known for its unique nesting choice, utilizing tree cavities or nest boxes near water. The female meticulously prepares the nest with down, creating a cozy chamber for her eggs. This nesting behaviour highlights the importance of mature forests adjacent to wetlands for their reproduction.

Adept divers, Common Goldeneyes feast on a diet rich in aquatic invertebrates and small fish. Their foraging habits contribute to the control of prey populations and the overall health of aquatic ecosystems, illustrating their integral role in nature’s balance.

Conservation efforts for the Common Goldeneye include maintaining and creating suitable nesting habitats through the installation of nest boxes and the protection of forested wetlands. These initiatives help to counteract the loss of natural nesting sites, ensuring the species’ continued presence in its native habitats.

22. Cinnamon Teal

  • Scientific name: Spatula cyanoptera
  • Life span: 7-10 years
  • Size: 15-16 in (38-41 cm)
  • Weight: 12-15 oz (340-425 grams)
  • Wingspan: 24-26 in (61-66 cm)
  • Status: Least Concern
  • State status: Migratory and rare

Exclusive to the western marshes of the U.S., the male Cinnamon Teal is notable for its radiant, reddish-brown plumage, while the female is dressed in a more subdued mottled brown.

Cinnamon Teal

Nesting is a secretive affair for the Cinnamon Teal, with nests placed on the ground among dense vegetation near water. The nest, crafted by the female, is a cozy bowl lined with down, designed for utmost discretion and protection from predators and the elements.

The Cinnamon Teal’s diet is a balanced blend of aquatic invertebrates and plant matter, showcasing its ability to adapt to available resources. This diet underscores the importance of diverse, healthy wetlands for their survival, as they forage in the shallow waters of marshes and ponds.

Conservation efforts for the Cinnamon Teal focus on habitat preservation and the restoration of wetland areas. Initiatives to ensure clean, accessible water sources and the protection of nesting sites are crucial for their well-being, reflecting a broader commitment to environmental stewardship and biodiversity.

23. Common Merganser

  • Scientific name: Mergus merganser
  • Life span: 5-12 years
  • Size: 22-25 in / 56-64 cm
  • Weight: 2.2-3.1 lbs / 1.0-1.4 kg
  • Wingspan: 26-30 in / 66-76 cm
  • Status: Least Concern
  • State status: Breeding and common

Large, with a sleek profile, found in rivers and lakes across the U.S., males are sharply dressed in white and dark green, females in gray with a reddish head.

Common Merganser

The Common Merganser prefers nesting in tree cavities or large nest boxes close to water, where the female creates a warm, down-lined nest. This preference for elevated nests protects their brood from ground predators and flooding, illustrating their adaptation to life in riparian ecosystems.

As adept piscivores, Common Mergansers hunt for fish in clear, freshwater rivers and lakes. Their specialized diet and hunting technique play a crucial role in controlling fish populations, highlighting the merganser’s significant ecological role as a top predator in aquatic food webs.

The focus of conservation efforts for the Common Merganser includes safeguarding riparian habitats and promoting clean water initiatives. Protecting these areas from pollution and development is essential for ensuring the availability of suitable nesting and foraging sites, underlining the interconnectedness of water quality and wildlife health.

Where to find Ducks in Michigan

In Michigan, ducks can be found in a variety of habitats ranging from large freshwater bodies to secluded wetlands. To spot these diverse species, birdwatchers should visit during migration periods in spring and fall when ducks are more abundant.

Key locations include the shores of the Great Lakes, especially Lake St. Clair and Saginaw Bay, which provide extensive wetlands and marshes ideal for waterfowl. Additionally, state wildlife areas like Nayanquing Point and Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge offer managed habitats that attract ducks. Equipping yourself with a good pair of binoculars and a field guide can greatly enhance the birdwatching experience.


Michigan’s diverse duck populations enrich its waterways, offering birdwatchers and nature lovers unparalleled opportunities to connect with the state’s natural beauty.

Through mindful conservation and appreciation, we ensure these magnificent birds continue to thrive, making Michigan a premier destination for avian enthusiasts.

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