Waterfowl Identification Key
(click photos to enlarge)

Feet Lobed

Coots and Grebes
Pied-billed Grebe (Helldiver) Smaller than a teal. Body buff colored; bill with dark band; rump white.
Eared Grebe Size of pied-billed grebe, but darker. Male with dark crest on top of head; hen with white spot behind eye. Rump dark. (photo from USFWS)
Horned Grebe Size of pied-billed grebe. Rump dark. Male with buff-colored ear tufts; female with white neck
American Coot (Mud hen) Body dark slate gray. Bill white, chicken-like; tail feathers short and stubby.
Feet Webbed
Bill long, tapered (Loons)
Common Loon Bill long, tapered, very stout & pointed. Large bird, size of small goose.
(photo from USFWS)
Bill long and narrow with saw teeth. (Mergansers)
Hooded Merganser Teal-sized, black and white with trailing crest on back of head. Male with white patch in crest, hen with white throat. (photo from USFWS)
Common Merganser Large (mallard-sized). Male’s head dark green, no crest; much white on body. Female rusty colored head & trailing crest. (photo from USFWS)
Red-breasted Merganser Smaller than mallard. Both sexes with crest on back of head. Male with red breast; female looks like hooded merganser female without white throat. (photo from USFWS)
Ducks and Geese Bill Flat (duck like)
Very large bird; neck as long as body (Swans)
Tundra (Whistling) Swan Body white; bill black, with yellow spot below eye. (photo from USFWS)
Mute Swan Body white; bill knobbed and orange. Large bird; neck 2/3 length of body. (Geese)
(photo from USFWS)
Canada Goose Body gray; neck & head black; white cheek patches.
Snow Goose (white phase) Smaller than Canada goose. Body, wings, & tail white; wing tips black; laughing patch on bill.
(photo from USFWS)
Snow Goose (blue phase)
Laughing patch on bill. Bluish gray body & white head; juvenile with dusky body, dark bill & feet.
White-fronted Goose Smaller than Canada goose. Laughing patch on bill. Adult with gray neck, black splotches on belly; juvenile dusky, with light bill & feet.
(photo from USFWS)
Brant Size of snow goose. Head, neck & chest black; body white. Medium-sized bird; neck 1/2 length of body or less. (photo from USFWS)
Puddle Ducks
No lobe on hind toe. Speculum iridescent (except sometimes on female pintail).
American Wigeon
Secondary coverts white. Feet & legs blue-gray; top of male’s head white. Speculum greenBrant Size of snow goose. Head, neck & chest black; body white. Medium-sized bird; neck 1/2 length of body or less. No lobe on hind toe. Speculum iridescent (except sometimes on female pintail). (Puddle ducks) (photo from USFWS)
Blue-winged Teal Secondary coverts blue with no white margin; may be some white between blue secondary coverts and speculum. Male with white crescent in front of eye. Speculum green
Northern Shoveler (Spoonbill) Secondary coverts blue with white margin. Bill very wide, spoon-like. Speculum green (photo from USFWS)
Green-winged Teal Secondary coverts dull brownish. Male with green “mask” around eye extending to back of head. Speculum green
Mallard (Greenhead) Speculum purple with white margins. Male with white neck ring, green head.

American Black Duck Speculum purple with black margins; small trace of white at back of wing. Body dark brown, contrasting with silvery under wings.

Gadwall (Gray mallard) Speculum white with iridescent black bars; rusty splotch in secondary coverts. Feet & legs yellow-orange. (photo from USFWS)


Wood Duck (Woody) Speculum iridescent bluish green (like turkey feathers); color continuing up into secondary coverts. Underside of belly light; underside of wings darker. Tail square. Female with white teardrop patch around eye. Males’ head with crest.

(photo from USFWS)


Northern Pintail (Sprig) Speculum with many iridescent colors, often bronze, with white margin on back edge of wing & brown margin at front edge of speculum. (Female speculum may be dull brown.) Neck very long. Male with very long tail feathers; female’s tail pointed, shorter than male’s. Male’s head rust colored; throat & belly white.
Diving Ducks
Lobe on hind toe (nail not prominent). Speculum not iridescent color.
Redhead Head red, rounded, with short bill. Female looks like ring-necked female with no white fringe on bill at head. Body light colored middle & dark at ends.
Canvasback Head red, with flat forehead & long bill. Body light colored middle & dark at ends.
Scaup (Bluebill) Head, neck & breast dark; bill blue. Female with white splotch at juncture of head & bill. Body light colored middle & dark at ends.
Ring-necked Duck Head, neck & breast dark; bill with white ring near end; female with white edge on base of bill at juncture with head. (photo from USFWS)

Common Goldeneye (Whistler) Body dark & light; head dark, looks as if it has lump on top. Larger than bufflehead. Male with white spot in front of & below eye. Female with white collar below dark head. (photo from USFWS)

Bufflehead (Butterball) Body & wings black & white. Very small duck (teal-sized). Male with white patch on head-below the eye to back of head; female with white spot behind eye. (photo from Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, USGS)
Oldsquaw Body & head with much white. Male with long pinlike tail. Bill short, (orange & black) (photo from USFWS)
Ruddy Duck Small duck. Tip of tail appears very ragged due to absence of upper tail coverts. Cheeks light-colored. Female with dark longitudinal line under eye on light cheek.



© 2005 ODNR, Division of Wildlife

Birding Areas

Wahkeena Nature Preserve-A 150 acre nature preserve also features interesting flora.

Clear Creek - the park is extremely rugged with ravines, rock outcroppings and cliffs.

Hocking Hills - Waterfalls, rugged cliffs and interesting rock formations.

Waterloo -craggy and heavily forested area with ridgetops and ravines.


Lake Hope - forested region with gorges and narrow ridges. Remnants of abandoned mining and iron producing industries.


Lake Snowden - mix of lake, woodland and open land.

Adena HockHocking - remnants of the canal basin and railway.

Wayne Natl. Forest - mix of meadows, forests and streams.

Lake Logan - lake and open meadows.

Rockbridge - wetlands, woodland and pasture.




Checklist of Bird Watching Items Worth Collecting:


Bird Field Guides




Spotting Scope


Bird Calls







Commonly Used Field Guides Birders Prefer :


The Sibley Field Guide to Birds


Audubon Field Guide to Birds (East And West Version)


Peterson's Field Guide to the Birds


National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds





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