South Dakota
Birds and Birding
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American Black Duck

Anas rupripes

Length: 20 - 24 inches Wingspan: 32 - 36 inches Seasonality: Rare Migrant
ID Keys: Both sexes similar to female Mallard, but much darker body and gray head.

American Black Duck - Anas rubripesThe American Black Duck is a close relative of the Mallard, but is more often found in wooded habitats.  Competition with Mallards, along with habitat loss caused by forest clearing, has steadily eroded their range.  Their stronghold has now been reduced to the Northeastern U.S., and they are becoming less and less common on the interior of the country.

Habitat: Found in a wide variety of aquatic habitats, but usually prefers woodland ponds and coastal salt marshes.

Diet: Omnivorous.  May feed on seeds, leaves, roots, berries, and aquatic plants, as well as crustaceans, mollusks, and insects.

Behavior: A dabbling duck, nearly always feeding by upending, only very rarely diving.  They will also forage on land by waddling around, grazing on plant material and sometimes digging for roots.

Breeding: Non-breeder in South Dakota

Song: Typical quack from female, lower croaking from the male. 

Migration: Summers through much of the Northeastern U.S., the Great Lakes region, and eastern Canada.  Winters in the eastern United States.  Inland birds and those in Canada migrate fairly long distances, but those along the coast and in the southern part of their range may migrate very little.

Similar Species: Mallard, Mottled Duck

Conservation Status: They are still common in many locations, but forest destruction has decimated their populations inland, as the current landscape in many areas favors Mallards over American Black Ducks.   Hybridization with Mallards has also taken its toll. 

Further Information: 1) USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, American Black Duck

2) Cornell University's "All About Birds - American Black Duck"

3) eNature.com: American Black Duck

Photo Information: Photo courtesy of Richard Ettlinger.

 

Click on the range map for a higher-resolution view
Range Map - American Black Duck
South Dakota Status: Rare migrant in the eastern half of the state.  Accidental in other seasons and in all seasons in the western half of the state.