8 Ducks With Green Heads (With Pictures!)

Duck with green head near the river

Undoubtedly, seeing a green-headed duck is one of the most exciting things that can happen to an avid birdwatcher. After all, who wouldn’t want to spot a waterfowl with a vibrant head color?

Fortunately, ducks with green heads are some of the most common birds in North America, and they can be encountered across the continent. In fact, they are even found in Europe, Africa, and Asia.

In this article, you will be introduced to 8 unique ducks with green heads. We’ll talk about their characteristics, including where to find them, what they eat, what sets them apart from each other, and many more facts!

8 Ducks With Green Heads

1. Common Goldeneye

Common Goldeneye
Origin:North America, Europe, Asia
Size:15–20 in
Weight:21–45 oz
Wingspan:30–33 in
Temperament:Territorial, aggressive
Lifespan:11–12 years

Hailing from different continents, including the United States, Europe, and Asia, the Common Goldeneye is known for its iridescent dark green head, chiefly seen in the male members of the species.

In particular, Common Goldeneye drakes dazzle with green heads that look almost black without the sun’s kiss. They have white markings on either side of their faces, too.

When the breeding season rolls around, these waterfowls nest in forested areas, particularly in British Columbia, Western Canada, Michigan, and Alaska.

Yet, if you ever encounter one, make sure to approach it with caution. Note that these green-headed birds are aggressive and territorial.

As for their diet, male and female Common Goldeneyes are diving ducks that feed mainly underwater. They’re pretty picky, with a menu varying from crayfish, crabs, and fish eggs to marine worms, frogs, and pondweeds.

2. Wood Duck

Wood duck
Origin:North America
Size:17–20 in
Weight:16–31 oz
Wingspan:28–39 in
Lifespan:3–5 years

Among the many species of ducks, the Wood Duck stands out with its radiant hues and intricate patterns. Yet, males are especially eye-catching with their green heads, complemented by brown breasts and red eyes.

Further enhancing their vibrant appearance are detailed white lines that grace the sides of their heads, flashes of blue that peek from their wings, and bursts of pale yellow that pulse across their bellies.

Beyond their striking build, though, female and male Wood Ducks are true to their name. They have an affinity for wooded swamps, gathering in impressive flock sizes, sometimes reaching up to 200.

As far as diet is concerned, these green-headed ducks feed on seeds, aquatic insects, and plants, with snails and clams occasionally joining the feast.

3. Green-Winged Teal

Green Winged Teal
Origin:North America, Europe, Asia
Size:12.5–16 in
Weight:5–17.5 oz
Wingspan:20.5–23 in
Temperament:Vocal, sociable
Lifespan:Up to 27 years

The Green-winged Teal is an intriguing member of the duck family, especially when it comes to its head coloration.

Specifically, while the males don’t sport the typical full green head like other duck species listed here, they present a distinctive green stripe that adorns the side of their brown heads.

Yet, note that this green bar doesn’t stop at their domes. It subtly extends to a part of their wings — also known as the iconic green wing patch.

It’s a feature present in both males and females, offering a glint of hue when they take flight in the Rocky Mountains.

Regarding habitat, these dabbling ducks find comfort in diverse wetlands like marshes, rivers, and bays, feeding on a buffet that ranges from grasses to smaller aquatic critters like crustaceans, mollusks, and tadpoles.

Below is a clip of Green-winged Teals showing off the green stripes on the sides of their heads:

Green winged teal duck call sound, flying

4. Mallard

Mallard duck
Origin:North America, Europe, Asia
Size:19.7–28 in
Weight:32–48 oz
Wingspan:32.3–37.4 in
Temperament:Highly social
Lifespan:5–10 years

The Mallard is undeniably one of the most recognizable ducks, particularly noted for the vibrant green heads of the males.

However, it is worth noting that these drakes are not just about their beautiful green head color. They also sport curly tail feathers, bright yellow beaks, chestnut-colored chests, and distinctive orange feet.

Moreover, male Mallard ducks are known for exhibiting blue patches called speculums on their wings. Yet, these iridescent blue feathers tend to be darker on them than those of their female counterparts.

On a different note, Mallards are dabbling ducks that feed on crabs, plant matter, waste grains, tree seeds, and insects. In other words, they spend most of their time submerged in shallow water or ponds.

You may have spotted these birds along the Pacific Coast, where they breed. As temperatures dip, though, they migrate to spend the winter in the southern parts of the United States.

5. Northern Shoveler

Northern Shoveler
Origin:Asia, Europe, North America
Size:18–19 in
Weight:22–24 oz
Wingspan:27–33 in
Temperament:Loud, social
Lifespan:2–10 years

Northern Shovelers are easily distinguishable ducks, especially when it comes to their males. These male ducks boast iridescent green heads paired with yellow eyes, setting them apart in the waterfowl world.

What’s more, the Northern Shoveler is a mid-sized duck with a gorgeous dark brown underside, which contrasts nicely with its white body and black back. This makes it one of the most beautiful birds around.

Yet, one of these ducks’ notably striking features is their spoon-shaped, black bills. They also have special spikes called lamellae along the edge of their bills, allowing them to filter their aquatic meals efficiently.

Additionally, the Northern Shovelers’ presence isn’t limited to North America. While they breed predominantly in Alaska, Manitoba, and along the Pacific and Atlantic Coasts up to parts of the northwest like Canada, they also grace Europe.

When winter sets in, they venture further, spending colder months across Africa and even India.

6. Greater Scaup

Greater Scaup
Origin:Europe, North America
Size:15–22 in
Weight:25–48 oz
Wingspan:28–30 in
Lifespan:10–12 years

Another duck with a green head that you should know about is the Greater Scaup. Specifically, the male of this species stands out with its dome’s bright green feathers.

However, don’t let its striking head color divert your attention; the rest of its body is an eye-catching blend of black and white.

Concerning habitat, female and male Greater Scaup ducks remain a fixture across the tundra regions in both North America and Europe. They inhabit areas of open water, lakes, and ponds.

Distinguished as diving ducks, they also showcase a remarkable ability to plunge up to 23 feet underwater in pursuit of a meal, which is a healthy mix of mollusks and plant material.

7. American Wigeon

American Wigeon up close
Origin:North America
Size:16–24 in
Weight:25–29 oz
Wingspan:30–36 in
Lifespan:Up to 21 years

When discussing ducks with green head feathers, the American Wigeon effortlessly stands out.

However, there’s a twist: in male American Wigeons, the green isn’t dominant over the entire dome. Instead, they sport green stripes on the side of their heads, much like the bars observed in Green-winged Teal drakes.

This vibrant hue is contrasted by a white cap-like patch on their forehead and an ivory-colored bill.

In terms of classification, the American Wigeon is a dabbling duck, so it will be found in shallow water habitats where food sources are abundant. Yet, what’s interesting about this species is its opportunistic behavior.

During a birdwatching trip in Eastern Canada, I keenly observed male and female American Wigeons. Fascinatingly, they stayed close to diving ducks and swans and tried to steal food from them.

8. Common Merganser

Common Merganser
Origin:North America, Europe, Asia
Size:22–28 in
Weight:33–60 oz
Wingspan:32–24 in
Lifespan:11–14 years

Common Merganser males are ducks with green heads as well. Yet, here’s a fun fact: like many ducks mentioned in this article, they undergo a shift after breeding.

These males will molt, assuming a more subdued appearance, akin to females whose heads are brown in tint.

On another note, Common Mergansers have a wide range of habitats, from forests to tundras, but can also be found on some freshwater lakes and swamps. They forage on aquatic plants and insects, as well as small fish.

Come the breeding season, they’re not building nests on the ground. Instead, male and female Common Mergansers opt for an elevated home, choosing abandoned woodpecker holes or naturally occurring tree cavities.

Final Thoughts

Throughout this guide, readers have learned about eight unique ducks, all bearing distinctive green heads. From the well-known Mallard to the striking Wood Duck, each species offers its own set of characteristics.

On top of that, all these green-headed ducks are native to North America. So, if you plan to travel to this continent anytime soon, you will be able to spot these birds easily.

Yet, if you’re from Asia, Africa, or Europe, you may also see ducks with green heads in your region.

Just make sure to hang around wetlands, such as ponds, lakes, and bays, where these waterfowl species live in large numbers.

If you have any thoughts about green-headed ducks, do share them with us in the comments!

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