American Black Duck

American Black Duck by David J. L'Hoste
© David J. L'Hoste
Anas rubripes
This species winters annually in the state in small numbers, but its main wintering grounds are to the east of us. It arrives in early October and remains until the end of March. The best place in the state to look for the Black Duck is among the Mallards in the soybean fields of the northern half of the state. Catahoula Lake and the Saline Wildlife Management Area are especially convenient locations, but everywhere the Black Duck is outnumbered by the Mallard 100 to 1. Although the Mottled Duck sometimes wanders northward and may occasionally appear in northern Louisiana, any duck of the Black-Mottled type seen in the upper half of the state is likely to be the former species. In the coastal marshes the reverse tends to be true but with more exceptions.
Unlike the male and female Mallard, the sexes of the Black Duck are quite similar. The present species is a large blackish duck, with prominent white undersurfaces to the wings, which show in flight. The speculum is an iridescent purple. The Black Duck is most likely to be confused with the Mottled Duck, but the latter is paler with a less streaked head and neck, an immaculate throat, and a more greenish speculum, often bordered in back by a prominent white line. Even in fresh plumage the Black Duck has only a faint white line on the back of the speculum, and this is usually concealed in the folded wing. Field identifications that distinguish between the Black and Mottled Ducks should be made with great caution.--George H. Lowery, Jr., 1974, Louisiana Birds

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