Size: 20.5-28" (52-71 cm). This is the largest of North America's dabbling ducks. From fall until the end of breeding season, males have a solid greed head, white collar, reddish-chestnut breast, grayish sides and a black rump. Females are mottled brown with a whitish tail and mottled orange bill. Both sexes have a blue speculum bordered on the top and bottom by white bars
Similar Species- Female mallards and many other dabbling ducks can look similar; however the mallard is the only species with white borders on the top and bottom edge of the speculum.
The call of the female is a loud waack-waack-waack! The males gives a softer version of this call.
Breeds from Alaska, Mackenzie Delta, and Maine, south to southern California, Mexico, Oklahoma, and Virginia. Winters from southern Alaska and southern Canada to southern U.S. and Mexico
Eats seeds, rootlets, and tubers of aquatic plants, seeds of swamp and river bottom trees, acorns, cultivated grains, insects, mollusks, amphibians, small fishes, and fish eggs. Adults eat mostly vegetable material. Young initially feed primarily on invertebrates.
Dabbles in shallow water; foraging opportunities are optimal where water depth is less than 40 cm. Adapted to dynamic wetland conditions that provide variety of wetland types in relatively close proximity. Adaptable to variety of nest sites, but usually builds nest on ground, near water. May occasionally nest in hallow tree or artificial structures. In study conducted in prarie pothole region, breeding density (2.3-9.5 birds/km2) fluctuated with pond abundance. May attain high nesting density (400 nests/ha) on islands free of mammalian predators. An Idaho study suggested that mammalian and avian (Black-billed Magpies) predators may significantly effect nest success in some wildlife management areas. Many semi-feral populations exist. Most common duck in Idaho, where it resides year-round except at high elevations in winter.
Female incubates 5-14 eggs (usually 8-10), for 26-30 days. Young first fly at 49-60 days, and first breed at 1 yr.
Gazda, R.J. 1994. Duck productivity and nest predation in southeastern Idaho. M.S. Thesis, Univ. of Montana, Missoula. 61pp.