A Mottled Duck is a fun bird to see while bird watching. Below are some tips to help you identify Mottled Ducks. We have also put together a list of fun Mottled Duck t-shirts, Mottled Duck bird patches, birdhouses, bird feeders, binoculars, stickers, and other fun bird-watching items.
About Mottled Ducks
The Mottled Duck (Anas fulvigula) is a close relative of the Mottled Mallard. This duck is a dabbling duck found in Mexico and the Southeastern United States.
Description and Identification
Mottled Ducks are medium- to large-sized ducks around 18.5 – 22.5 inches long. They have
sturdy bodies, short necks and tails, long bills, and a wingspan of approximately 31.5 – 34.3
inches. These birds are sexually dimorphic in their appearances, with males being slightly
larger than females. Both sexes are brown and cinnamon, but males have vibrant yellow
bills with a dark patch at its opening; their back and sides are also streaked with buff.
Females generally have greenish-yellow to orange bills, with or without dark markings. Some
birds may have white in their otherwise dark tails, indicating Mallard genes.
Mottled Duck Color Pattern
Mottled have an iridescent blue speculum and puffy plumage that makes them easy to identify and appear lighter. Unlike most ducks, these birds do not have white anterior edges on the speculum. The male Mottled Duck’s bill is bright yellow whereas the female’s bill is duller in comparison.
Mottled Duck Size
The Mottled Duck is a large dabbling duck whose body is lighter than its head. The relative size for both sexes is:
- Length: 17.3-24.0 in (44-61 cm)
- Weight: 20.8-48.7 oz (590-1380 g)
- Wingspan: 33.5-35.4 in (85-90 cm)
- Wingspan: 31.5-33.5 in (80-85 cm)
Mottled Duck Behavior
- These ducks are both good swimmers and birds capable of walking (waddling) well on land.
- The males are very territorial and generally more aggressive than their female counterparts, except when the females have young ones.
Mottled Duck Food
These birds have a wide range of plant and animal-based diets, with specific items varying by
region and season. However, the most commonly consumed plants include the seeds and
shoots of wild millet, smartweed, spikerush, paspalum, sea purslane, wigeon grass, bulrush,
and many types of grass. An important part of their fall and winter diet can also be cultivated rice.
Their animal prey mainly includes invertebrates like snails, crayfish, beetles, amphipods,
dragonflies, and midges; vertebrates like small fish are also consumed. Animal matter is an
important part of the breeding females’ and the ducklings’ diets, as they require rich sources
Mottled Ducks are omnivorous birds whose diet includes snails, small fish, seeds from aquatic plants and grass, insects, and other small invertebrates.
Mottled Duck Habitat
These ducks inhabit fresh and brackish wetlands for resting, feeding, and nesting, with ideal
locations including shallow water at 6 inches or less. They opt for areas with abundant
emergent vegetation like grasses, bulrush, rice cutgrass, and bulltongue. They quickly adapt
to changes in their environment and can be found in temporary wetlands caused by heavy
rains as well, such as flooded rice fields. They are also found in tidal wetlands of river deltas,
oxbow lakes, prairie ponds, and coastal lagoons. Populations in Florida can be found in
many urban and suburban wetlands, including drain ditches along highways.
This bird inhabits wet prairies, open marshy areas, and rice fields. They much prefer areas that are treeless and offer wide horizons. If spotted in the coastal regions, they prone to be found in either brackish or fresh ponds as opposed to the salty marsh.
Range and Migration
Mottled Ducks are lively birds found along the Gulf of Mexico. They are close relatives of
Mallards and American Black Ducks but are separate species taxonomically. These birds
are non-migratory and are found on the coasts between Alabama and Tamaulipas,
sometimes venturing as far south as Veracruz in Mexico. They also inhabit central and
southern Florida but can occasionally be found straying north towards Georgia. However,
their close genes pose the threat of hybridization as the numbers of Mottled Ducks mating
with related species threaten their future.
Mottled Duck Life Cycle
The female Mottled Duck lays 8 to12 pale olives to whitish eggs and incubates that for a period that lasts between 24 to 28 days. The ducklings leave the nest shortly after hatching. They are led by the female Mottled Ducks to feeding grounds for them to feed themselves. At 50 days old, the young ducklings can fly to escape danger. It is only after 60 to 70 days that they are able to have sustained flight.
Mottled Duck Nesting
Nesting sites are scouted by both members of the pair, but the final selection is made by the
female. Females generally select a site close to the water at the base of a shrub, preferably at a
height less than 3 feet from the ground. It is placed on the vegetation, which provides the
site with protection. These sites can be found in pastures, fields, artificial and natural islands,
hedgerows, road medians, gravel mining pits, pine savannas, citrus groves, sugarcane
fields, and scrub oak communities. The nest itself is a circular, bowl-shaped depression in
the grass, usually beneath dense vegetation. The construction is undertaken by the female
as she adds grass litter, shredded grass, and her own down feathers into the bowl. The
resulting nest is sufficient for a clutch size of 8 – 12 eggs and the incubating parent.
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 Mottled Ducks
The most common types of bird-watching binoculars for viewing Mottled 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.
Mottled Duck T-shirts
If you love the Mottled Duck you should purchase a Bird Watching Academy & Camp T-shirt. To help support bird conservation we donate 10 percent to bird conservation activities.
Mottled 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 Mottled 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.
Mottled Duck Stickers
Stickers are a great way for you to display your love for bird watching and the Mottled 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 Mottled 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 Mottled 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.