21 Unique Black and White Duck Breeds

Unique black and white duck breeds

Black and white ducks are marvels of nature, with each breed showcasing unique patterns and fascinating behaviors that captivate both birdwatchers and casual observers.

Beyond their striking appearance, these ducks exhibit a wide range of adaptations and ways of life, from domesticated farm ducks to sea diving ducks. You’ll find them on lakes, rivers, and coasts worldwide.

We’ll explore 21 different black and white ducks in this article, including where they live, how they behave, and how they fit into their ecosystems. So, read on, and let’s get to know these birds better.

21 Black and White Duck Breeds

1. Smew

Black and white Smew duck
Scientific Name:Mergellus albellus
Length:15–17 in (38–44 cm)
Weight:15.8–23 oz (450–650 g)
Wingspan:21.6–27.1 in (55–69 cm)
Temperament:Shy, elusive
Lifespan:Up to 8 years
Calls:Low croaks, hissing whistles

Easily recognizable thanks to its distinctive black and white plumage, the Smew is a gorgeous duck. One of the most remarkable aspects of Smews is their obvious sexual dimorphism, especially during breeding season.

Males of this breed are often referred to as “panda ducks” because of the black patches surrounding their eyes, which give them a panda-like appearance.

On the other hand, females and juveniles are mostly gray in color with hints of chestnut brown on their heads, which earned them the nickname “redheads.”

Inhabiting the chilly northern taiga of Europe and Asia, Smews thrive in cold climates. They are agile fliers and can often be seen darting through rivers and lakes in search of food.

That said, these ducks are pretty shy and will fly away if they get scared. They’re also rare visitors to North America, so seeing one while you’re there is a special treat.

2. King Eider

Black and white King Eider duck
Scientific Name:Somateria spectabilis
Length:21.6–24.8 in (55–63 cm)
Weight:53–70.5 oz (1500–2000 g)
Wingspan:34.2–39.3 in (87–100 cm)
Temperament:Social, can be territorial
Lifespan:Up to 18 years
Calls:“Ruuurrr” calls during courtship, various growls, croaks, and murmurs

The King Eider is a black and white duck that can be found throughout the Arctic.

What sets them apart are their remarkably tall bills, which are separated from their faces by a thin black line. These bills are adorned with a striking red color, a white tip, and a prominent yellow knob.

King Eiders are expert divers and can be found foraging for worms, clams, and mollusks in shallow coastal waters.

Furthermore, they are social birds and tend to travel in large groups while at sea. During migration, these ducks gather in flocks of thousands but pair up for breeding.

Males perform elaborate courtship displays to attract females. After the females lay eggs, they raise the ducklings on their own. These ducklings mature quickly and can start flying in about three weeks.

Fun Fact: In the Bering Sea, a King Eider was once observed feeding as deep as 180 feet below the surface!

3. Bufflehead

Black and white Bufflehead duck
Scientific Name:Bucephala albeola
Length:12.6–15.7 in (32–40 cm)
Weight:9.5–19.4 oz (270–550 g)
Wingspan:22 in (55 cm)
Temperament:Active, solitary
Lifespan:Up to 18 years
Calls:Grating and chattering calls during courtship, occasional squeals or growls, “cuk-cuk-cuk” calls when near nests

With its striking black and white feathers, the Bufflehead is a captivating sight. Males are easy to spot with their iridescent heads and large white patches that flash in the sunlight.

In North America, Buffleheads are the smallest species of diving duck. They are often seen bobbing their heads on the water’s surface and diving down to snatch up their next meal.

You wouldn’t think it from looking at them, but they can fly with incredible agility, considering their small size.

These ducks are solitary creatures who prefer the peace and quiet of secluded ponds. They are rarely observed in large flocks.

When it comes to nesting, Buffleheads have a unique house-hunting method; they use abandoned woodpecker holes. They form lifelong pairs and return yearly to the same nesting site.

4. Tufted Duck

Black and white Tufted Duck
Scientific Name:Aythya fuligula
Length:15.7–18.5 in (40–47 cm)
Weight:19.8–35.3 oz (560–1000 g)
Wingspan:25.6–28.3 in (65–72 cm)
Temperament:Quiet, social
Lifespan:Up to 4 years
Calls:Soft series of whistles

Another small diving duck on this list is the Tufted Duck, which is found widely throughout the waterways of northern Eurasia.

With their eye-catching black and white feathers, these ducks stand out in their freshwater habitats.

Males of this breed are distinguished by their fancy ponytail-like tufts, white flanks, and sleek black bodies. Females are less flashy than the males, with brown feathers and shorter tufts.

Tufted Ducks are fantastic swimmers and love to dive underwater to find food. They live around lakes and rivers in Europe and Asia and don’t mind being near cities.

In winter, they often gather in flocks and scatter themselves like a monochromatic mosaic across the water’s surface. Unlike most waterfowl, they are not aggressive, although they will defend their nests if necessary.

5. Magpie Duck

Black and white Magpie Duck
Scientific Name:Anas platyrhynchos domesticus
Length:18 in (45 cm)
Weight:72–112 oz (2041–3175 g)
Wingspan:30 in (76 cm)
Temperament:Docile, friendly
Lifespan:Up to 12 years
Calls:Soft quacks

The Magpie Duck is a domestic duck breed known for its gorgeous black and white plumage, which resembles the European bird it’s named after.

They’re from Britain and are pretty popular because they lay big eggs that can sometimes be green or blue. Renowned for their exceptional egg-laying capabilities, they typically produce around 220 to 290 eggs per year.

These ducks are very adaptable and can live just about anywhere, from a farm to your backyard pond. They’re also known for their friendly nature, which makes them a popular choice for duck enthusiasts.

Magpie Ducks are a light breed, with adults weighing around 4 to 7 pounds, and they have a reputation for being good foragers. With their striking looks and practical qualities, they are a prized breed among poultry keepers.

6. Ancona Duck

Black and white Ancona duck
Scientific Name:Anas platyrhynchos domesticus
Length:Not specified
Weight:96–112 oz (2721–3175 g)
Wingspan:Not specified
Temperament:Calm, friendly
Lifespan:Up to 10 years
Calls:Soft squeaks

Easily recognized by its mottled black and white feathers, the Ancona duck is a charming breed. Each duck has a unique pattern, like a snowflake, with no two ducks looking exactly the same.

These ducks are excellent layers, capable of laying up to 280 large eggs annually. Their eggs can be white or even blue-green, and their meat is said to be flavorful, with less fat compared to other duck breeds.

Ancona ducks are also known for being calm and friendly, which makes them great backyard companions. In fact, they are widely regarded as one of the calmest and quietest domestic ducks around.

I have a friend who can vouch for their docile nature as she raises Ancona ducks on her farm. According to her, their calm temperament simplifies handling, as they rarely resist being lifted for routine health checks.

Her advice is to support their weight gently and avoid sudden movements to ensure they remain relaxed and cooperative.

7. Lesser Scaup

Black and white Lesser Scaup
Scientific Name:Aythya affinis
Length:15.4–17.8 in (39–45 cm)
Weight:21.2–42.3 oz (600–1200 g)
Wingspan:27–30 in (68–76 cm)
Temperament:Social, cooperative
Lifespan:Up to 18 years
Calls:“Wee-o” calls during courtship, harsh grunts

Also known as the Little Bluebill or Broadbill, the Lesser Scaup is a black and white duck that is not just stunning to look at but is also remarkable in its adaptations.

Males have shiny purple heads, white sides, and bright yellow eyes, while females have brown backs and white bellies. Both genders feature the characteristic blue bill.

Lesser Scaups are known for their agility in the water and their sociable nature, often seen in large flocks during migration.

With a population of around 3.8 million, they are one of the most widespread diving ducks in North America.

Fun Fact: Lesser Scaups can actually slow down their heartbeat during forced dives. This incredible ability helps them save air and stay underwater longer, which is incredibly handy for a duck that’s all about diving.

8. Greater Scaup

Black and white Greater Scaup
Scientific Name:Aythya marila
Length:15–22 in (39–56 cm)
Weight:25.6–48 oz (726–1360 g)
Wingspan:28–33 in (71–84 cm)
Lifespan:Up to 15 years
Calls:Soft nasal whistles, raspy quacks

The Greater Scaup is a black and white duck that stands out as the only circumpolar diving duck around, which means its range covers one of Earth’s polar regions.

Unlike their freshwater-loving cousins, the Lesser Scaups, these ducks have a preference for salty coastal waters.

As sea dwellers, Greater Scaups are excellent divers. They can go as deep as 23 feet to find food on the ocean bottom, but they rarely go deeper than seven feet.

Sadly, these ducks are facing significant threats in Europe, which led to their classification as ‘Vulnerable’ on the European Red List of Birds.

A study shows that a big reason for this is that they often get caught in fishing nets by accident, especially in the Baltic Sea, where they like to spend the winter.

If this continues, their population might drop by as much as 36% in just 30 years.

9. Muscovy Duck

Black and white Muscovy Duck
Scientific Name:Cairina moschata
Length:26–33 in (66–84 cm)
Weight:38.8–141 oz (1100–4000 g)
Wingspan:54–60 in (137–152 cm)
Temperament:Peaceful, friendly
Lifespan:Up to 20 years
Calls:Soft shrill calls

Native to South America, the Muscovy Duck is the only domestic duck that is not related to the Mallard. This sets them apart in the duck world, making these black and white ducks quite unique.

In terms of appearance, these large birds can be easily identified by the red, warty caruncles that surround their eyes and beaks.

Unlike many ducks, Muscovies don’t swim much because they have underdeveloped oil glands. They’re more often found on land or perched in trees, thanks to their strong claws.

These ducks are also known for being quiet; they don’t quack like other ducks. But what’s really unique about Muscovies is their genetics.

When they are crossed with another duck species, the resulting offspring are infertile and called “mule ducks.”

10. Common Eider

Black and white Common Eider
Scientific Name:Somateria mollissima
Length:19.7–28 in (50–71 cm)
Weight:46–92.1 oz (1300–2611 g)
Wingspan:31.5–43.3 in (80–110 cm)
Temperament:Social, cooperative
Lifespan:Up to 20 years
Calls:Pleasant cooing calls, “kor-korr-korr” alarm calls

The Common Eider is the northern giant of the duck world. Scattered throughout North America, Greenland, Iceland, and Scandinavia, this black and white duck breed is the largest in the Northern Hemisphere.

Males are striking with their black and white feathers and a splash of green on their necks. Meanwhile, females wear a more camouflaged brown that helps them blend into their coastal nesting areas.

When nesting, females carefully pluck down from their own breasts to create a warm and cozy lining for their nests. This down is so effective that humans have harvested it for centuries to fill bedding.

Fun Fact: Eider down is among the most expensive feathers in the world. A blanket or duvet stuffed with it can sell for around $5,000. That’s one fancy, warm blanket!

11. Spectacled Eider

Black and white Spectacled Eider
Scientific Name:Somateria fischeri
Length:19.7–21 in (50–53 cm)
Weight:45–61.7 oz (1275–1750 g)
Wingspan:33.1 in (84 cm)
Temperament:Shy, elusive
Lifespan:Up to 15 years
Calls:Soft “hoo-hoo” courtship calls, clucking calls

Another species of eider that belongs on this list is the Spectacled Eider. These ducks stand out with their black feathers and distinctive white patches that resemble spectacles around their eyes.

Unique among eiders, their feathers go all the way up to the nostrils on their beaks, which sets them apart from their relatives.

However, Spectacled Eiders are renowned for more than just their unique facial feathers. They are also known for their hardiness in one of the planet’s toughest environments.

These sea ducks are at home in the harsh Arctic, where they’re perfectly adapted to the freezing temperatures.

12. Long-tailed Duck

Black and white Long tailed Duck
Scientific Name:Clangula hyemalis
Length:15–18.5 in (38–47 cm)
Weight:17.6–38.8 oz (500–1100 g)
Wingspan:28–28.4 in (71–72 cm)
Temperament:Social, can be timid
Lifespan:Up to 15 years
Calls:Constant yodeling sounds

With its black and white feathers and super long tail, the Long-tailed duck is very easy to spot.

They are tough birds that breed way up north in the Arctic and migrate to coastal waters, where they’ve shown remarkable adaptability in the face of environmental changes.

A study has highlighted their ability to alter their diet in response to prey availability, which is crucial for a species classified as vulnerable.

According to the study, the decline in blue mussels in the Baltic Sea has caused these ducks to switch to a more varied diet that includes worms and small fish.

Their ability to adapt is not just fascinating, but it’s also a ray of hope for the conservation of this threatened species.

13. Pomeranian Duck

Black and white Pomeranian Duck
Scientific Name:Anas platyrhynchos domesticus
Length:7–9 in (18–23 cm)
Weight:88.1–105.8 oz (2500–3000 g)
Wingspan:Not specified
Temperament:Curious, skittish
Lifespan:Up to 12 years
Calls:Soft cooing sounds

The Pomeranian Duck, with its eye-catching black or blue feathers and contrasting white breast, is not just beautiful but also quite rare.

These ducks were developed in Germany as a crossbreed and share their lineage with other northern European breeds like the Shetland and Swedish Blue Ducks.

Weighing in at a modest 5 to 6 pounds, they are among the smaller domestic duck breeds. They are versatile and are primarily kept for their great egg production and tasty meat.

While Pomeranian ducks are known for their friendly and inquisitive nature, they can be a bit skittish around strangers or unfamiliar animals.

However, they are low-maintenance, and their long lifespan of up to 12 years makes them a great long-term companion.

14. Ring-necked Duck

Black and white Ring necked Duck
Scientific Name:Aythya collaris
Length:15.4–18.1 in (39–46 cm)
Weight:17.3–32.1 oz (490–910 g)
Wingspan:24.4–24.8 in (62–63 cm)
Temperament:Social, active
Lifespan:Up to 20 years
Calls:Series of high-pitched, short barks or grunts

A small diving duck known for its distinctive black-and-white pattern is the Ring-necked Duck. Despite their name, the chestnut ring on their necks is actually very hard to see.

So, if you’re trying to spot these ducks in the field, look instead for the white ring around their bills and the white patch next to the gray on their flanks.

These ducks are commonly found in small flocks, diving in freshwater habitats across North America. They are not picky eaters and will munch on everything from little water critters to plants they find underwater.

Highly active and mobile, Ring-necked Ducks are always on the move. They get around by walking, hopping, flying, swimming, and diving.

When they’re nesting, you can often find them resting on floating plants or in bunches of tall plants growing in the water.

15. Common Pochard

Black and white Common Pochard
Scientific Name:Aythya ferina
Length:17–19 in (42–49 cm)
Weight:16.5–43.7 oz (467–1240 g)
Wingspan:28–32 in (72–82 cm)
Temperament:Calm, social
Lifespan:Up to 10 years
Calls:Soft, low whistling “pee” calls, raspy wheezing sounds

The Common Pochard is a medium-sized diving duck that is found throughout Eurasia. Males can be easily identified thanks to their rusty red heads and necks set against their sleek black and white bodies.

On the other hand, females are more subdued, with brownish plumage that helps them blend in by the water’s edge.

Sadly, these ducks are facing a decline in numbers and are now listed as ‘Vulnerable’ by conservationists.

The good news is that efforts to restore their habitats, such as improving water quality and managing vegetation, have shown promise.

Research conducted in Denmark found that these restorations significantly increased the number of breeding females. It just goes to show how important clean waterways are for the survival of these ducks.

16. Hooded Merganser

Black and white Hooded Merganser
Scientific Name:Lophodytes cucullatus
Length:15.8–19.3 in (40–49 cm)
Weight:16–31 oz (453–879 g)
Wingspan:23.6–26 in (60–66 cm)
Temperament:Quiet, shy
Lifespan:Up to 12 years
Calls:Raspy “gack” calls during courtship, low grunting or croaking sounds

With its large black and white crest, the Hooded Merganser is truly an eye-catching duck. Their crests can be dramatically displayed or neatly folded down, depending on their mood.

Native to North America, Hooded Mergansers are at home in tree-lined bodies of water. They are also one of the few duck species that nest in tree cavities, which adds to their unique charm.

These ducks are often seen in small groups, expertly diving for fish with their narrow, serrated bills. During a kayaking trip last fall, I spotted a pair of Hooded Mergansers along a wooded river.

They are a treat to watch, especially when they vanish under the water, only to pop up elsewhere. With their beautiful crests and swift wingbeats that create a unique whirring sound in flight, they’re definitely hard to miss.

Fun Fact: Hooded Mergansers have a transparent third eyelid called a nictitating membrane, which acts like a pair of built-in goggles to protect their eyes when swimming.

17. Common Shelduck

Black and white Common Shelduck
Scientific Name:Tadorna tadorna
Length:22.8–26.3 in (58–67 cm)
Weight:35.2–48 oz (998–1360 g)
Wingspan:43.3–52.3 in (110–133 cm)
Temperament:Territorial, vocal
Lifespan:Up to 10 years
Calls:Loud, rapid honking quacks

The Common Shelduck is a vibrant bird sporting a bold pattern of black, white, and chestnut with a distinctive red bill. They are easy to spot with their flashy colors and the males’ prominent knob at the base of their beaks.

These ducks prefer coastal habitats and can be found in salt marshes, estuaries, and sandy shores across Europe and Asia. Unlike many ducks, they nest in burrows and will sometimes even use old rabbit holes.

Common Shelducks are social birds, often seen in groups, digging in the mud for a good meal. They are definitely not shy either; you’ll hear them coming with their loud honking.

Moreover, they are famous for their synchronized flying displays, which are a highlight for birdwatchers. If you are curious to see these ducks flying in formation, check out this video:

18. Barrow’s Goldeneye

Black and white Barrows Goldeneye
Scientific Name:Bucephala islandica
Length:17–19 in (43–48 cm)
Weight:17–46.6 oz (480–1320 g)
Wingspan:27–30 in (68–76 cm)
Temperament:Aggressive, territorial
Lifespan:Up to 18 years
Calls:Low, harsh “cuc-cuc-cuc” sounds, “ka-kaa” grunts during courtship

With its glossy black and white plumage and bright golden eyes, Barrow’s Goldeneye is a real stunner. They are characterized by a prominent white crescent between their eyes and a unique purplish sheen on their heads.

These birds often choose to breed in freshwater lakes, rivers, and ponds surrounded by forests, but they can also be found in open areas.

They are known for their unique nesting habits, in which they prefer to nest in tree cavities.

In the winter, they tend to stay in shallow coastal waters. Here, they often form large flocks, which can include hundreds of individuals.

This social structure is essential for their survival, providing safety in numbers and more eyes to spot potential food sources and predators.

19. Black Swedish Duck

Black Swedish Duck
Scientific Name:Anas platyrhynchos domesticus
Length:Not specified
Weight:17–46.6 oz (2948–3628 g)
Wingspan:27–30 in (68–76 cm)
Temperament:Calm, shy
Lifespan:Up to 12 years
Calls:Loud quacks

The Black Swedish Duck is one of the oldest domesticated duck breeds. They are easy to spot with their glossy black feathers and a neat white patch on their chests.

These ducks are calm and a bit shy, but they love to explore and search for food, which makes them an excellent choice for those who wish to raise ducks in a free-range environment.

In terms of productivity, Black Swedish Ducks are reliable egg layers, producing between 130 and 180 eggs per year. Their eggs can range in color from white to blue or green.

For anyone looking for a backyard duck or a breed to raise on a small farm, Black Swedish Ducks are an excellent option due to their pleasant temperament, foraging capabilities, and overall hardiness.

20. Common Goldeneye

Black and white Common Goldeneye
Scientific Name:Bucephala clangula
Length:15.8–20.1 in (40–51 cm)
Weight:21.2–46 oz (600–1300 g)
Wingspan:30.3–32.7 in (77–83 cm)
Temperament:Territorial, aggressive
Lifespan:Up to 12 years
Calls:Series of short “cuk” calls

Recognizable by its iridescent green head and shiny gold eyes, the Common Goldeneye is quite a sight. These black and white ducks are gregarious, often sticking with their flock whether they’re migrating or foraging.

You’ll usually find them in the chilly waters up north, diving deep to snatch up bugs and small fish to eat. They’re excellent divers and can stay submerged for up to a minute.

However, during the breeding season, they often show aggressive tendencies against other waterfowl species and can be quite solitary.

These ducks prefer to nest in holes in trees, usually in the dense boreal forests of Canada and Alaska.

They are creatures of habit and will often return to the same nesting spot year after year. Nevertheless, they are not picky and will happily use a nest box if it’s available.

21. Red-breasted Merganser

Black and white Red breasted Merganser
Scientific Name:Mergus serrator
Length:20.1–25.2 in (51–64 cm)
Weight:28.2–47.6 oz (800–1350 g)
Wingspan:26–29.1 in (66–74 cm)
Temperament:Social, friendly
Lifespan:Up to 9 years
Calls:Croaking calls, “meow” calls

The Red-breasted Merganser is a black and white duck known for its remarkable agility. With speeds of up to 81 miles per hour, they are among the fastest-flying ducks in the world.

These ducks are very adaptable and can live in both freshwater lakes and salty ocean bays. They’re not picky about where they live and will stay anywhere as long as there are plenty of fish.

To fuel their fast-paced lifestyle, Red-breasted Mergansers consume a hefty diet of 15 to 20 fish per day.

Research indicates that in order to meet this demand, they must dive 250 to 300 times a day or forage for 4 to 5 hours.

Interestingly, Red-breasted Mergansers work together in groups to herd fish, which makes it easier to catch their meals. This teamwork is a sight to see and shows how smart they are.

Do you have any stories or questions about these black and white duck breeds? Drop a comment below, and let’s talk about these amazing birds!

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