There are many duck species found in Texas, including dabbling ducks, diving ducks, and sea ducks. While some ducks live in Texas throughout the year, others migrate there when they fly south for the winter. The duck population shifts overtime, but you’re most likely to spot these ducks in Texas. Let’s take a look at 18 Texas ducks in the following list.
18 Ducks Found in Texas
From the black-bellied whistling duck to the blue-winged teal, all of the following species of ducks have one thing in common… they reside in the state of Texas at some point during the year.
1. Black-Bellied Whistling Duck
Scientific name: Dendrocygna autumnalis
This duck can be found in central and southeast Texas and lives there year-round! True to its name, it has a black belly and tail, but the rest of its feathers are brown, white, and gray. It mainly feeds nocturnally and eats plants, insects, snails, and other small creatures.
2. Ring-Necked Duck
Scientific name: Aythya collaris
The ring-necked duck spends its summers in Canada and the Northern U.S. but flies south to Texas in the winter. After migrating, it can be found throughout the state, but it prefers large lakes like Lake Livingston and Caddo Lake. It has black, white, and gray plumage, as well as a reddish-brown ring around its neck.
3. Wood Duck
Scientific name: Aix sponsa
Most wood ducks in Texas are found in the eastern half of the state, where they live in river basins and wooded swamps. They can also be found throughout the Edwards plateau. Male wood ducks are colorful, with bright red eyes and iridescent feathers. Female ducks have more muted colors, but often have patches of color along their wings.
Scientific name: Anas platyrhynchos
Also known as the wild duck, the mallard is one of the most common ducks in the Lone Star state. While mallards are often spotted in forest wetlands, they can thrive in most bodies of water and can sometimes be seen in backyard swimming pools! It likes to build nests from reeds and grasses. Females usually have brown feathers, but males often have iridescent green plumage covering their heads and neck.
5. Fulvous Whistling Duck
Scientific name: Dendrocygna bicolor
These ducks are often spotted in ponds and marshes, but they can also be found on the beach in the Bolivar Peninsula region of southern Texas. Some fulvous whistling ducks stay in Texas all year, but others fly to Mexico for the winter. It has long legs and brown plumage, with black and white feathers along its wings.
6. Muscovy Duck
Scientific name: Cairina moschata
Nearly all muscovy ducks in Texas are found in the Rio Grande Valley. While they mostly have black and white feathers, they also have fleshy pink or red skin near their bill. Muscovy ducks mostly eat aquatic plants, but they may also feed on small fish and crustaceans in shallow water.
Scientific name: Aythya valisineria
The canvasback is the largest diving duck species in North America, reaching lengths of more than 22 inches. It prefers sheltered coastal waters where it has access to a variety of foods.
Canvasbacks are very common in Texas from November to April, where they can be spotted across the state. Sightings are common near Caddo Lake, Lake Fork, and Hubbard Creek.
8. Lesser Scaup
Scientific name: Aythya affinis
Also known as bluebills, lesser scaup are diving ducks that flock to freshwater ponds and lakes. It can be found all over Texas, but it’s often seen around the Dallas/Fort Worth area and Carrollton, Texas, where it can be spotted in Josey Ranch Lake and Woodlake Pond. Many lesser scaup live in Texas all year, but populations are much larger between November and May.
9. Ruddy Duck
Scientific name: Oxyura jamaicensis
The ruddy duck typically measures between 13 and 17 inches long. Its beak is blue in the summer, but it fades to a dull gray in the winter. You can find ruddy ducks in the northern panhandle all year, but ducks also migrate to other parts of Texas in the winter. Migrating ruddy ducks are often sluggish and tend to avoid other birds.
10. Northern Shoveler
Scientific name: Spatula clypeata
These dabbling ducks are easy to spot thanks to their oversized bills, which are nearly twice as long as their heads! Thanks to its bill, it can reach crustaceans and aquatic plants in deeper waters. It’s usually found in shallow waters and loves swimming in ponds. Many northern shovelers migrate to Texas in the winter, but some birds live in the state all year.
Scientific name: Aythya americana
The redhead is a diving duck that’s skilled at underwater foraging. Male redheads have reddish-brown feathers on their heads, but females usually have brown or gray feathers. In the winter, many redheads flock to the Laguna Madre lagoon on the South Texas Gulf Coast.
Scientific name: Mareca strepera
You’re most likely to spot gadwalls in Texas between November and March, but smaller populations are present year-round, especially in the western Panhandle region. It’s a dabbling duck and usually has brown or gray feathers. Gadwalls spend lots of time foraging for food in the water but build nests on land.
13. Green-winged Teal
Scientific name: Anas carolinensis
These migrating ducks flock to Texas between September and April. They prefer shallow waters, where they can easily feed on aquatic plants, insects, and mollusks. Migrating ducks can be found across the state, but smaller populations live in South Texas Brush Country all year.
14. American Wigeon
Scientific name: Mareca americana
The American wigeon can be found in a variety of habitats, including ponds, lakes, and wet pastures. You’re most likely to spot it in Texas between September and May when birds in northern states fly south for the winter. It’s commonly seen in the panhandle region and coastal marshes along the Gulf of Mexico.
15. Mottled Duck
Scientific name: Anas fulvigula
Most mottled ducks in Texas live in marshes near Sabine Lake or Galveston Bay. Males and females look very similar and can be difficult to tell apart. It has brown feathers across its body, with lighter plumage on its neck and head. They eat a varied diet that includes insects, small fish, snails, and aquatic grasses.
16. Cinnamon Teal
Scientific name: Spatula cyanoptera
These dabbling ducks are usually found in shallow waters. Cinnamon teals can be spotted all year in the High Plains and western Trans-Pecos regions, but in the winter, they’re more likely to be found in lakes and marshes in southwest Texas. Male ducks have cinnamon-red plumage, but females have gray or brown feathers.
Scientific name: Bucephala albeola
The bufflehead is a sea duck that is typically somewhere between 13 and 16 inches long. It gets its name from its large head, which can look even larger when the duck puffs out its feathers. Most buffleheads in Texas are there between November and May when more than 4,000 of these ducks can be found in lakes and coastal waters across the state.
18. Blue-winged Teal
Scientific name: Spatula discors
The blue-winged teal is on the small side for a duck, usually measuring between 14 and 15 inches long. It prefers calm bodies of water and can usually be spotted in Brazos Bend State Park and along Warren Lake. While it can be found in Texas throughout the year, the population increases in the winter, when blue-winged teals in northern states migrate south.