A Masked Duck is a fun bird to see while bird watching. Below are some tips to help you identify Masked Ducks. We have also put together a list of fun Masked Duck t-shirts, Masked Duck bird patches, birdhouses, bird feeders, binoculars, stickers, and other fun bird-watching items.
About Masked Ducks
The Masked Duck (Nomonyx Dominicus) is a tropical bird that spends the better half of its time laying low in marsh growths. It is one of the smallest and most distinctive members of its family that is dependent on water bodies.
Description and Identification
Masked Ducks are small birds that range between 5 – 5.5 inches in length. While their sizes
can vary, they are sexually dimorphic in their colors. Males have a black face and crown
that contrasts with their reddish-brown nape, neck, and chest. Their bodies are mottled
reddish-brown with black undertones, while their orbital rings and bills are blue. Females
have buff eyebrows that contrast with their dark brown crown and eye stripes. Their faces
are buff with dark horizontal stripes and a gray bill while their bodies are a mottled dark and
tawny brown. Unlike males, females lack an orbital ring. The plumages of juveniles tend
to resemble those of the females.
Masked Duck Color Pattern
The adult male Masked Duck has a black face, brilliant blue bill, neck, and breast adorned with brown plumage, its body patterned with brown-black finishing off with a black tail. On the other side is the adult female Masked Duck whose plumage is brown with pale feather edging, her bill is very dark and she has a dark crown and line on her cheek that is separated by pale lines below and above her eye line.
Masked Duck Size
The relative size for both sexes is:
- Length: 33cm (13 inches)
- Weight: 363 g(12.8 oz)
- Wingspan: 43cm (17 inches)
Masked Duck Behavior
Masked Ducks are very quiet birds, only when looking for courtship will the male produce a series of rolling notes.
Masked Duck Food
The diet of these ducks mainly revolves around seeds, stems, roots, and leaves of aquatic
plants. While there is little information on the diet of these birds, the broad and recurved
shape of their bills suggests that seeds and other plant matter are a key part of their diet.
Commonly consumed seeds include swamp smartweed, wild millet, and other plant
matter of waterlily, sedge, dodder, and Jamaica swamp sawgrass. During breeding seasons,
females and juveniles also feed on aquatic insects and crustaceans to acquire sufficient
protein. In order to source food, Masked Ducks are capable of diving down to a depth of 6 –
22 feet at shallow waters with emergent vegetation.
They forage for their food by diving and swimming underwater. Their diet mostly consists of plant material including grasses, seeds, sedges, and some waterside and aquatic plants. Once in a while, they feed on crustaceans and aquatic insects.
Masked Duck Habitat
These birds are mainly found in marshes, swamps, streams, ponds, mangrove lagoons, and
rice fields with overgrown vegetation. Their ideal habitats seem to include freshwater
wetlands with abundant floating vegetation. In the United States, they are found in ponds
and impoundments with sufficient marsh growth and shallow open water. Populations in
Texas can be frequently found in marshy areas that have American lotus, yellow pond-lily,
California bulrush, and broadleaf cattail.
Being freshwater ducks, Masked Ducks mostly inhabit marshes, ponds, and some open areas. In the tropical areas, they are found in rice plantations, mangrove lagoons, and swamps.
Range and Migration
Masked Ducks are inconspicuous stiff-tailed tropical birds that are found throughout the
tropical regions of the Americas. They are primarily non-migratory and range from Mexico,
through Central America, until the rainforests of South America. Vagrants of these ducks are
also found in regions of Texas and Florida in the United States. Although they seem to be
permanent residents of their habitats, they have been observed to move across regions in
an inconsistent fashion; this is thought to happen in response to climate change bringing
about new habitable environments occasionally. One such example is the case of Texas,
where a few unusually wet years attracted large flocks of these birds towards it.
Masked Duck Life Cycle
The female Masked Duck lays 4 to 10 whitish to pale buff eggs that are much smaller and smoother than those of the Ruddy duck. She incubates her eggs for close to 4 weeks in another bird’s nest. Females of this breed often lag eggs in each other’s nests. After hatching, the ducklings leave the nest and are tended to by their mother; however, she leaves the feeding to them to do it for themselves. The age of flight has not yet been determined.
Masked Duck Nesting
The elusive nature of these ducks has left very little data on their breeding behavior.
Nesting sites are known to be near shallow water among marshy vegetation. Nests are
constructed by the females and is typically a woven bowl of reeds and grasses or of mats of
broken rice stems, sometimes with a sparse lining of down feathers. Resulting nests are
estimated to be around 2 inches long with a breadth of roughly 1.5 inches, the ideal size for
a clutch of 4 – 6 eggs.
Bird Watching Academy & Camp Subscription Boxes
At Bird Watching Academy & Camp we help kids, youth, and adults get excited and involved in bird watching. We have several monthly subscription boxes that you can subscribe to. Our monthly subscription boxes help kids, youth, and adults learn about birds, bird watching, and bird conservation.
Bird Watching Binoculars for Identifying Masked Ducks
The most common types of bird-watching binoculars for viewing Masked Ducks are 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. Bird Watching Academy & Camp sells really nice 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. You can view and purchase them here.
Masked Duck T-shirts
If you love the Masked Duck you should purchase a Bird Watching Academy & Camp T-shirt. To help support bird conservation we donate 10 percent to bird conservation activities.
Masked Duck Iron On Patches
Kids, Youth, and Adults love to collect our Bird Watching Academy & Camp iron-on patches. Our bird-watching patches help you keep track of the birds you have seen and identified. You can also display the patches on our Bird Watching Academy & Camp banners.
The Masked Duck is a great iron-on patch to start your collection with. The patches are durable and can be sewn on or ironed on to just about anything.
Masked Duck Stickers
Stickers are a great way for you to display your love for bird watching and the Masked Duck. We sell a monthly subscription sticker pack. The sticker packs have 12 bird stickers. These sticker packs will help your kids learn new birds every month.
Bird Feeders for Masked Ducks
There are many types of bird feeders. Here are our favorite bird feeders for your backyard. We use all of these bird feeders currently. Kids will have a great time watching birds eat at these bird feeders. Using this collection of bird feeders will provide a wide variety and many types of birds.
Best Bird Houses for Masked Ducks
There are many types of birdhouses. Building a birdhouse is always fun but can be frustrating. These 4 birdhouses have become our favorites. Getting a birdhouse for kids to watch birds grow is always fun. We spent a little extra money on these birdhouses but they have been worth the higher price and look great.