All Ducks in California with Pictures

With verified data and images collected exclusively from trustworthy sources, we’ll present the most frequently observed duck in California. A licensed Ornithologist has additionally confirmed this information for authenticity.

Mallard Ducks


(Anas platyrhynchos) are the most abundant and recognizable species of ducks in California. They can be identified by their bright green heads, yellow bills, and brownish-gray bodies with white tail feathers. Mallards typically eat aquatic insects, mollusks, crustaceans, amphibians, small fish and plant materials. They have a wingspan of approximately 3 feet and the male ducks weigh an average of 2.5 pounds, while female ducks tend to be slightly smaller at about 1.8 pounds on average.

Mallards usually prefer habitats that provide access to shallow water and dense vegetation such as wetlands, rivers, streams, ponds and lakes. During the breeding season, Mallards form large flocks on open water, where they can be observed performing courtship rituals with elaborate displays of callings and head bobs. During winter months they will often gather in larger groups and travel to more favorable climates.

Mallard ducks are highly adaptable animals and have successfully adapted to human habitation. They can often be spotted in urban parks and rivers, as well as near agricultural areas where the combination of food sources and open water create a more hospitable environment for them to thrive.

Mallard range map

Carolina duck

(Anas carolinensis) are a type of medium-sized waterfowl native to parts of the United States, particularly California. They measure 17–20 inches and weigh about 1.3 pounds. Carolina duck finches have an overall brownish/grayish coloration with white on their faces and necks and some distinctive black markings on their wings.

These waterfowl feed mostly on aquatic plants, small invertebrates, and seeds. They can often be seen foraging in shallow waters or near wetlands. They are also known to eat some grains and other plant material when available.

Carolina duck finches typically inhabit freshwater marshes, ponds, lakes, and other wetlands. They are most active during the day and can be seen foraging for food, swimming, and preening their feathers. During the breeding season, males will perform elaborate courtship displays to attract a mate. Once paired, they build nests near water or in trees and raise their young together.

These birds migrate south during the winter, typically spending their winters in the southern United States. During spring migration they can often be seen flocking together near bodies of water, providing an opportunity to observe large numbers of these fascinating birds up close.

Wood Duck

Wood Duck

(Aix sponsa) is a species of perching duck native to North America. It is one of the most distinctively colored waterfowl, with glossy green and purple head plumage, an orange beak, white chin patch and white stripe running along their backs. Wood Ducks are medium-sized birds that range in size from 16 to 20 inches, with a wingspan of 26 to 29 inches.

The Wood Duck typically inhabits wooded swamps and lakeshores in wetland areas that provide plenty of vegetation and adequate cover from predators. They are highly adaptive and have been known to inhabit urban parks and gardens near bodies of water. Wood Ducks primarily feed on acorns, seeds, and grains such as corn, oats, and wheat. They supplement their diets with aquatic plants and insects like flies, grasshoppers, crayfish, and beetles.

Wood Ducks are social birds that can form large flocks in winter months. During the summer they often flock in pairs or small family groups. Wood Ducks maintain their territory during the breeding season through courtship displays, such as swooping and diving, which they use to attract potential mates. Wood Ducks are monogamous and typically form pairs in springtime that will last throughout the nesting season.

The Wood Duck is a species of conservation concern in California due to population declines due to habitat loss and fragmentation. To help protect the Wood Duck and other migratory birds, conservationists are working to restore wetland habitats in California and provide safe resting places for these birds to complete their important migration journeys each year.

Ruddy Ducks

Ruddy Duck

(Oxyura jamaicensis) are small species of waterfowl found in California. They have an unmistakable appearance, characterized by a large head, long neck, and chestnut-colored body with a white face and blue bill. Adult males have shiny black feathers on the back of their heads that can be erected during courtship. Ruddy Ducks typically reach lengths of 16-18 inches and weigh between 1-2 pounds.

In California, Ruddy Ducks are largely found in the freshwater wetlands, marshes, lakes, and ponds in the Central Valley region. During the winter they can migrate to coastal areas such as San Francisco Bay. Their diet mainly consists of aquatic insects, mollusks, small fish, and aquatic plants.

Ruddy Ducks can be quite vocal and are known for performing a loud “whinny” call during courtship displays. These displays include males pointing their bill skyward and quickly bobbing their head down towards the female in an effort to win her affection. They also perform wing-drumming by rapidly beating their wings against the water’s surface to create a loud noise and attract a mate or intimidate another male.

Blue-winged Teal

Blue-winged Teal

(Anas discors) is a medium-sized duck of the dabbling duck group, native to North America. These ducks are easily identified by their mottled brown head and back and a distinctive blue patch near the base of their wings. Males also have a turquoise-blue stripe running above each eye, while females have a similar mark, but are duller.

Their average size is around 16 inches in length and they weigh between 11-15 ounces. The diet of Blue-winged Teal consists of seeds, aquatic insects, crustaceans, mollusks and larvae.

Blue-winged Teal are found throughout California, usually in shallow marshes and wetlands. During the summer months, they are more commonly found near lakes and ponds, while during the winter they retreat to coastal lagoons and bays.

In terms of behavior, these ducks tend to be quite skittish around people. They are very active in flight, making short bursts of quick movements and changes in direction to avoid predators. Blue-winged Teal also tend to feed by dabbling in shallow water rather than diving like some other duck species.

Blue-winged Teal are social birds that migrate in large flocks, usually with other species of ducks such as mallards and northern pintails.

Blue-winged Teal range map

Cinnamon Teal

Cinnamon Teal

(Spatula cyanoptera) is a dabbling duck native to North and South America. It is easily identifiable by its cinnamon-red head, neck, and breast, with a grayish blue back. The Cinnamon Teal generally has an average body length of 17–19 inches (43–48 cm).

The diet of the Cinnamon Teal consists mainly of aquatic vegetation as well as insects, grains, and other small invertebrates.

In California, the Cinnamon Teal is found in wetlands and marshes. It can also be spotted along lakeshores and slow-moving rivers. The Cinnamon Teal usually migrates in flocks during winter to more southern areas such as Mexico and Central America.

These ducks are quite social animals and can often be seen in large flocks foraging for food in shallow marshes and ponds. When not feeding, they will often rest on shorelines or bask in the sun. The Cinnamon Teal is a generally timid species that usually takes off quickly when disturbed by humans. However, they can become quite tame when unaccustomed to being disturbed. This makes them a popular subject of study and observation by birders and duck enthusiasts alike.

When in danger, the Cinnamon Teal can also display aggressive behavior such as chasing away intruders and defending their territory. They are also known to practice “mobbing” where they gather to harass an intruder, usually a bird of prey or mammal.

Cinnamon Teal range map

Ring-necked Duck

Ring-necked Duck

(Aythya collaris) is an American duck native to regions of California. It has a distinctive ring around its neck, giving it its name. The males are primarily black with white patches on their wings and heads, while the females have dull mottled brown feathers. The Ring-necked Duck typically measures 18-20 inches in length, with a wingspan of 25-28 inches.

These ducks mostly inhabit freshwater lakes, marshes and ponds in California. They feed primarily on aquatic insects, snails, crayfish and plant material such as seeds, grains and tubers. During the spring and summer months, Ring-necked Ducks breed in California. The males will perform courtship displays, including “head-pumping,” which is a bobbing or weaving motion of the head. The nests of the Ring-necked Duck are typically made on dry ground near water and consist of grass, leaves, and downy feathers.

The females will lay up to 8 eggs per clutch that hatch after 26-28 days of incubation. The young ducks are capable of flight within two to three weeks after hatching. The Ring-necked Duck is an excellent swimmer and can even dive underwater in search of food, staying submerged for up to 30 seconds at a time. It is also an agile flier and can reach speeds over 50 miles per hour.

Ring-necked Duck range map

Northern Pintail

Northern Pintail

(Anas acuta) is a medium-sized duck that can be found in wetlands and near water bodies throughout California. They are easily recognizable by their long, pointed tail feathers and gray body. The male has a white underside with black stripes and a pink bill. Their diet consists of insects, mollusks, crustaceans, and aquatic plants. Northern pintails can be up to 20 inches long and weigh around 2 pounds.

Northern Pintail are most commonly found in shallow marshes, ponds, lakes, and slow moving rivers with lots of vegetation for them to feed on. They often migrate south in the winter months and fly in large flocks. When courting, males will swim with their heads held high and tails spread out. They often mate in pairs and build nests on the ground near water.

Northern Pintail range map

Hooded Merganser

Hooded Merganser

(Lophodytes cucullatus) is a striking duck native to California. It has a distinct black and white crest that resembles an old-fashioned neck ruffle, giving it its name. The male has a distinctive white crest with a black back, while the female’s crest ranges from soft tan to dark brown on top, with a brown-speckled white underside. The male’s bill is yellowish, while the female’s bill is brown.

These ducks typically inhabit wetlands throughout California, including salt and freshwater, but they can also be found in wooded areas near water, such as flooded forests or riverbanks. They tend to feed on small fish, crustaceans, aquatic insects, and mollusks. During the breeding season, they feed on a variety of seeds, sometimes taken from the land.

Hooded Mergansers are medium-sized ducks, reaching 15-18 inches in length with an average weight of 1.1-1.5 pounds. They generally breed during late winter or early spring, laying 4-9 eggs in a nest built by the female.

These ducks are solitary by nature but may join with others of their species during the migration or when the food supply is plentiful. During courtship, they can be seen displaying and performing intricate aerobatic maneuvers such as diving and hovering in midair. Though they fly fairly fast, they typically stay close to the water and fly at low altitudes. Their call is a loud, high-pitched whistle.

Hooded Merganser range map

Duck Hunting Season Dates in California

California duck hunting season dates vary by zone, but typically begin in late October and extend through the end of January. There is also a special early teal season that runs for two weeks in September. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) sets the regulations for bag limits, shooting hours, and other rules to ensure wild ducks’ healthy life. It’s important to be aware of the regulations in your hunting area before going out. Here are a few tips for duck hunters in California:

1. Brush up on the rules and regulations, including bag limits, shooting hours and other restrictions specific to each zone.

2. Obtain all required permits, tags and stamps so you can legally hunt ducks in California.

3. Be prepared for adverse weather conditions, including extreme temperatures and heavy winds.

4. Have the necessary equipment and supplies to stay safe while hunting, such as a life jacket and first aid kit.

5. Scout out your duck hunting area ahead of time to find productive spots for hunting and setting up decoys.

6. Be aware of other duck hunters in the area and cooperate when hunting together.

7. Practice safety and follow all hunting laws so you can enjoy a successful hunt.

Gear for Duck Hunting

When it comes to duck hunting, having the right gear is essential for a successful outing. Here are some of the must-have items for any duck hunter:

• Waders: Waders keep you dry in wet conditions and help you stay warm while on the hunt. They come in different styles and sizes, so be sure to pick the ones that best fit your needs.

• Gun: A shotgun is essential for duck hunting, and there are many different types of guns to choose from. It’s important to select one with a good balance between power and accuracy, as well as one that fits comfortably in the hands of the shooter.

• Decoys: Plastic or foam decoys help to attract ducks and can be a great tool for successful hunting. There are many different styles of decoys available, so it’s important to select the ones that look most realistic in the area you’ll be hunting.

• Clothing: Waterproof clothing is essential as it will keep you dry while hunting in wet conditions. Select clothing that is lightweight, breathable, and comfortable so that you can enjoy your outing without any discomfort.

• Accessories: Binoculars and calls are two of the most important accessories for duck hunting. Binoculars help to spot ducks from a distance, while calls can be used to attract ducks to your area.

What kind of ducks live in California?

California is home to a variety of duck species. The most commonly seen ducks in the state are mallards, gadwalls, northern shovelers, cinnamon teal, green-winged teal and American wigeon. Other waterfowl found in California include canvasbacks, redheads, ruddy ducks, buffleheads, American coots and American white pelicans. California also has a few rare species including the long-tailed duck, king eider and Steller’s wider.

Some diving ducks such as the greater scaup and lesser scaup, can be occasionally seen in coastal waters. Cormorants, grebes and loons are also found throughout the state. California is an important stopover point for many migratory waterfowl, making it a great place to view ducks and other waterfowl in their natural habitat.

Are ducks native to California?

No, ducks are not native to California. Ducks are primarily found in areas with significant natural wetlands or man-made bodies of water such as ponds, lakes, and rivers. The primary duck species native to California is the Mallard Duck, although many other species of ducks have been introduced to the state.

Because of years of hunting and habitat destruction, the population of ducks in California has declined significantly. However, thanks to conservation efforts, the duck population is beginning to recover and many species can now be found throughout the state. The best way to see ducks in California is to visit a local wildlife refuge or other area with suitable wetland habitats.

What kind of ducks can you hunt in California?

In California, you can hunt a variety of ducks, including Mallards, Green-winged Teal, Canvasback, Gadwall, Widgeon, Pintail, Cinnamon Teal and Wood Ducks. There are also some Conservation Order waterfowl species available for hunting in certain areas such as Snow Geese and Ross’s Geese. Hunting season generally begins in late September and runs through January, depending on the species.

It is important to check the California Department of Fish and Wildlife regulations as they can change from year to year. Also, it is very important to make sure that you have obtained any necessary licenses or permits before heading out on your hunt.

What kind of ducks are in the Bay Area?

The Bay Area is home to a variety of ducks. Common species include Mallards, Green-winged Teals, Northern Pintails, American Wigeons, Cinnamon Teals and Gadwalls. Other less common waterfowls that can be seen in the area are Canada Geese, Snow Geese, Tundra Swans, American Coots and American Avocets. Additionally, there are several species of sea ducks such as Surf Scoters, White-winged Scoters, Red-breasted Mergansers and Buffleheads seen in the area around San Francisco Bay.

Most of these waterfowls can be seen during the winter months when they migrate to the warmer climate of the Bay Area. Additionally, there are some species of ducks that have made this area their permanent homes such as Greater Scaup, Lesser Scaup, Northern Shovelers and Eurasian Wigeons.