Minnesota, the land of 10,000 lakes, is a natural haven for waterfowl. Birdwatchers and hunters alike flock to Minnesota, drawn by the huge duck population. The state is home to large numbers of both puddle ducks and diving ducks, and they can be found in all of the Minnesota’s waterways. In this article we’re going to look at some of the ducks in Minnesota, and learn a bit about each one.
Ducks in Minnesota
Minnesota is home to many different species of duck including well-known species like Mallards, Pintails, Canvasbacks, Teals, and Wood Ducks, along with a number of lesser-known species like Black Ducks and Buffleheads.
Let’s have a look at 17 of Minnesota’s ducks!
Scientific name: Anas platyrhynchos
Length: 24 inches
Mallards might just be the most famous duck species. The distinctive green heads of the males are probably what most people picture when they think of wild ducks. In Minnesota, these ducks can be found throughout the state in lakes, ponds, and wetlands and in urban, suburban, and rural areas.
2. Green-winged Teal
Scientific name:Anas carolinensis
Length: 12.2-15.3 inches
Wingspan: 20.5-23.2 inches
The smallest dabbling duck in North America, the green-winged teal can be found year-round in Minnesota, preferring wetlands and seasonal wetlands with woodlands nearby. They tend to breed and nest in heavily wooded areas.
3. Blue-winged Teal
Scientific name: Anas discors
Length: 15 inches
Weight: 1 pound
Wingspan: 23 inches
Blue-winged teals migrate south earlier than most species, as they’re very sensitive to cold weather. They favor small lakes and back bays, tend to prefer open prairie to woodlands. They’ll begin to migrate south at the end of September, and some travel as far as Colombia.
4. Cinnamon Teal
Scientific name: Anas cyanoptera
Length: 16 inches
Wingspan: 22 inches
These bids are named for the color of the drakes (males), which really does look like cinnamon. These are western birds that are somewhat rare in Minnesota. Look for them in the southwestern corner of the state.
Scientific name: Anas acuta
Length: 23-30 inches
Weight: up to 3 pounds
Wingspan: 31-37 inches
The pintail is one of the largest ducks in North America. Pintails are migratory, but they occasionally overwinter in Minnesota when they can find open water. In Minnesota, they can be found primarily in the western regions of the state, especially in open wetlands.
Scientific name: Mareca strepera
Length: 18-22 inches
Wingspan: 31-35 inches
The gadwall is one of the most common dabbling ducks in North America. In Minnesota, they’re mainly found in the northwest and west-central regions. Some populations will overwinter in the southern half of the state, too. They live in wetlands with heavy vegetation, both above and below the water.
Scientific name: Mareca americana
Length: 17-23 inches
Wingspan: 30-36 inches
These widespread birds are typically only found in Minnesota as they stop to rest on their migratory route, although small numbers will sometimes breed in Minnesota. They can be found in the early summer/early fall, primarily in shallow wetlands.
Scientific name: Spatula clypeata
Length: 19 inches
Weight: 1.3 pounds
Wingspan: 30 inches
Easily identifiable due to their large, shovel-like bill, the Shoveler can be found year-round in Minnesota, especially in the southern regions. They like small wetland basins, especially during the breeding season.
9. Wood Duck
Scientific name: Aix sponsa
Length: 19-21 inches
Wingspan: 26-29 inches
Wood ducks are small perching ducks with striking colors in the males who have red beaks. They’re common all over Minnesota, and they prefer wooded swampy areas, shallow lakes, and marshes. They’re especially common in the southern 2/3 of the state.
10. Black Duck
Scientific name: Anas rubripes
Length: 21-23 inches
Weight: 1.6-3.6 pounds
Wingspan: 35-37 inches
The black duck, named for its dark, monotone colors, is found only in the northeastern corner of Minnesota. Scattered populations can be found in other parts of the state, although Minnesota does lie on the western edge of their range. It prefers wetlands, like most ducks, but it can be found in a wide range of habitats.
Scientific name: Aythya valisineria
Length: 19-22 inches
Weight: 1.9-3.5 pounds
Wingspan: 31-35 inches
Canvasbacks are named for their grey-brown backs. They breed in western and southern Minnesota, but there’s nowhere in the state they can be found in the winter. You’ll find them in prairie wetlands, sometimes called prairie potholes.
Scientific name: Aythya americana
Length: 15 inches
Weight: 2-2.5 pounds
Wingspan: 33 inches
Named for the red heads of the males, the redhead duck can be found in most of Minnesota, except the northeast corner, during the summer breeding season. They favor small wetlands in open, non-wooded areas, which means you can often find them alongside canvasbacks.
13. Ring-necked Duck
Scientific name: Aythya collaris
Length: 15-18 inches
Weight: 1-2 pounds
Wingspan: 24 inches
Ring-necked Ducks can be found throughout most of the state during the summer breeding season, although they’re more heavily concentrated in the north. Wooded lakes and ponds are their favorite habitats. These ducks are omnivores, eating plants and small insects.
Scientific name: Aythya affinis
Length: 15-19 inches
Weight: 1-2.5 pounds
Wingspan: 27-31 inches
Both the Lesser Scaup and Greater Scaup are rare in Minnesota and found mainly during times of migration, but they can be found in the state. Lakes and marsh ponds are their preferred habitats. They tend to prefer tundra during the breeding season, which means that Minnesota is well south of their main breeding range. Nonetheless, they are a regular sight here.
15. Common Goldeneye
Scientific name: Bucephala clangula
Length: 18-20 inches
Weight: 2.2 pounds
Wingspan: 30-32 inches
The common goldeneye’s can be found throughout most of Minnesota in the winter. During the breeding season, the extreme north of the state is at the very southern edge of the duck’s breeding range, so these birds can be found here year-round, just in different areas. While they prefer woodland lakes and rivers for breeding, in winter they gravitate to open water in non-wooded areas.
Scientific name: Bucephala albeola
Length: 13-16 inches
Wingspan: 21.6 inches
The Bufflehead can be found in the extreme northeast corner of the state during the breeding season, and throughout the entire state during their migrations. In the winter, they’re commonly observed on the waters of Lake Superior. They rarely gather in large flocks, preferring much smaller groupings.
17. Ruddy Duck
Scientific name: Oxyura jamaicensis
Length: 13.5-17 inches
Weight: 1.2 pounds
Wingspan: 18.5 inches
Ruddy ducks breed in marshy lakes and ponds all throughout the state of Minnesota. Expect to find them in large, non-wooded, permanent wetlands as opposed to the prairie potholes favored by other species.