A number of species of ducks breed and make the Hudson Bay Lowlands their home during our short northern summers. American Black Ducks, Green Winged Teal, Mallards and Northern Pintail are common to the Kaska area.
American Black Duck
American black ducks are large dabbling ducks similar in colouration to female mallards. Black Ducks have dusky dark brown plumage – not black, and are often referred to as dusky ducks. Males have bright yellow bills while females have duller, olive-coloured bills. Black Ducks are closely related to Mallards and the two species interbreed. Black ducks weigh between 1.5 to 3-3/4 lbs on average, measure 21 – 34 inches in length with a 35 – 37 inch wingspan.
Green Winged Teal
Green Winged Teal are the smallest of the North American dabbling ducks. They have short, blocky bodies and their tails sit high out of the water. The head is large, the neck is short, and the bill is relatively small. Males have grey sides and backs, with a yellow rear end and a white-edged green speculum. It has a chestnut head with a green eye patch. Green Winged Teal are 12 – 15 inches in length, weigh 5 – 18 oz and have a wing span of 20 – 23 inches.
Mallards are the best known duck in the world. Male Mallards are readily distinguished by their gloss green heads, separated from a brown chest by a white “collar”. Mallard’s wings and undersides are grey with white-bordered black or blue feathers on their speculum.
Migrating Mallards are estimated to fly at about 55 mph.
. The Mallard is 20–26 in. long, of which the body makes up around two-thirds the length. The wingspan is 32–39 in. and the bill is 1.7 to 2.4 in. long. It is often slightly heavier than most other dabbling ducks, weighing from 1.5–3.5 lb.
Northern Pintails are fairly large dabbling ducks with slender necks and long, pointed central tail feathers, which gave rise to their name. Drakes have a thin white stripe running from the back of their chocolate-coloured head down the neck to a mostly white belly. The drake also has grey, brown, and black patterning on its back and sides. Both sexes have blue-grey bills and grey legs and feet.
Northern Pintails migrate at night at speeds around 48 miles per hour. The longest nonstop flight recorded for a Northern Pintail was 1,800 miles
Pintails have a wingspan of 31 – 37 in. Males re 23 – 30 in in length and weigh from 1 – 3 lbs. Males are quite a bit larger than females, which are 20 – 25 in long and weigh from 1 – 2.5 lbs.
The Greater Scaup is the only circumpolar diving duck. Greater Scaup are mid-sized diving ducks with drakes being larger and having more rounded heads than the females. The male has a dark head with a green sheen, a black breast, a light back, a black tail, and a white underside. Drakes have bright blue bills and yellow eyes. Females are mostly brown with white on their wings, dull blue bills and white on their faces.
The adult Greater Scaup is 15 – 22 long with a 28 – 33 in wingspan and weighs from about 1.5 – 3 lbs.