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Many of Willapa's ducks are dabblers and feed by putting their heads in shallow water and their hind ends in the air/Photo Courtesy of Dr. Madeline Kalbach

Birds in this group have heavy bodies, webbed feet, and large, flattened bills. Waterfowl include geese, swans, ducks and mergansers. Most waterfowl have comb-like ridges on the sides of their bills called lamellae to strain small items from water or mud. The lamellae of mergansers are modified into small, tooth-like points to help them grip fish.

  • American Wigeon

    American wigeon have large round heads/Photo Courtesy of Dr. Madeline Kalbach

    Equally at home in fields or water, the American wigeon is a dabbling duck with a large, round head and small gray bill. Look for this duck throughout the refuge in fall, winter and spring months.

  • Blue-winged Teal

    The white cresent on the face of the male blue-winged teal helps to identify it from other ducks/USFWS Photo

    This dabbler is occasionally found in shallow refuge wetlands and flooded fields during spring and fall months. Adults have a white crescent on the front of their face.

  • Brant

    Brant are a small, dark sea goose that depends on Willapa Bay/USFWS Photo

    The small, dark, migrant sea goose is dependent on the eelgrass beds of Willapa Bay. It is an occassional user of the Refuge.

    Discover more about the habits of brant…

  • Bufflehead

    The bufflehead is a diving duck with a puffy, round head/Photo Courtesy of Dr. Madeline Kalbach

    A common winter site throughout the refuge, this small diving duck gathers in small flocks.

    Learn more about the bufflehead…

  • Cackling Goose

    The cackling goose is a small cousin to the Canada goose/Photo Courtesy of Dr. Madeline Kalbach

    A small goose, the cackling was recently split from the Canada goose species.

    Find out more about this new species…

  • Canada Goose

    Cananda geese have a distinctive white chinstrap and nest at the refuge/Photo Courtesy of Rollin Bannow

    Probably one of the best known waterfowl throughout North American, The Canada goose has numerous subspecies.

    Uncover more about the Canada goose…

  • Cinnamon Teal

    The male cinnamon teal is cinnamon in color and has a red eye/Photo Courtesy of Dr. Madeline Kalbach

    Similar to the blue-winged teal, cinnamon teal forage in shallow wetlands and flooded fields. They have a long, broad bill like a northern shoveler. Although they nest in the refuge, the cinnamon teal is not always seen.

    Learn more about this duck…

  • Common Goldeneye

    Common goldeneyes have a round white patch on their face/Photo Courtesy of Dr. Madeline Kalbach

    The goldeneye nests in trees and gathers in small flocks in the refuge during winter months.

    Find out more about this diving duck...

  • Common Merganser

    Common mergansers have a long, hooked bill used to catch fish when they dive/Photo Courtesy of Dr. Madeline Kalbach

    Most often found in deep river channels, the common merganser dives for small fish. It nests locally.

    Learn more about common mergansers...

  • Greater Scaup

    The greater scaup has a longer, wider head than the lesser scaup/Photo Courtesy of Dr. Madeline Kalbach

    The greater scaup is similar to the lesser, although generally prefers more open salt water. Its habitat may easily overlap, so look to the head shape for identification. The head of the greater scaup is longer and wider, while the lesser is taller and narrower.

    Discover more...

  • Greater-white Fronted Goose

    The greater white-fronted goose is gray with a pink bill/Photo Courtesy of Dr. Madeline Kalbach

    This goose has a pink bill and orange legs. Fall, winter and spring visitors to the refuge may hear them honk as they fly over or rest in fields.

    Learn more about the greater white-fronted goose…


  • Green-winged Teal

    Green-winged teal are the smallest of dabblers that visit Willapa Bay/Photo Courtesy of Dr. Madeline Kalbach

    A common winter sight in the refuge, this small teal is one of the first migrants to arrive in the fall. This compact duck often feeds in tight flocks on shallow wetlands or mudflats. This dabbler can lift off directly from the water when startled.

    Uncover more about green-winged teal...

  • Hooded Merganser

    Hooded mergansers have a distinctive wedge-shaped crest/Photo Courtesy of Dr. Madeline Kalbach

    A tree nester, hooded mergansers prefer wooded ponds and backwater sloughs. They have a long tail and a large crest. Hooded mergansers nest here and are present year round, although not always seen.

    Discover more about hooded mergansers...

  • Lesser Scaup

    Lesser scaup have a narrower and taller head than the greater scaup/Photo Courtesy of Dr. Madeline Kalbach

    The lesser scaup is similar to the greater, although generally prefers freshwater streams and ponds. Their habitat may easily overlap, so look to the head shape for identification. The head of the greater scaup is longer and wider, while the lesser is taller and narrower. The lesser scaup is commonly seen in the refuge during fall, winter and spring months.

    Find out more...

  • Mallard

    Mallards are adaptable ducks and the green heads of the male are easily recognized/Photo Courtesy of Dr. Madeline Kalbach

    A well-known duck, the mallard is the largest dabbling duck in North America. It adapts well to all wetland habitats and is common throughout the refuge and nests here. Frequently found with other dabblers such as teal, pintail and wigeon.

  • Northern Pintail

    The male northern pintal has a brown head and a white neck stripe/Photo Courtesy of Rollin Bannow

    Sleek in appearance, this dabbler has long, narrow wings, and a long neck and tail. Found in swallow ponds and marshes throughout the refuge, the pintail is frequently found in mixed flocks with other dabblers. Northern pintail are most abundant in the refuge during fall months.

    Check out more about pintail...

  • Northern Shoveler

    The male northern shoveler has a green head and a long, wide, flattened bill/Photo Courtesy of Dr. Madeline Kalbach

    A long slender duck, the shoveler has a large, spatulate bill. Although they are not always seen in the refuge, look for shovelers in wet fields, shallow wetlands and mud flats.

    Discover more about this duck…

  • Ring-necked Duck

    The ring-necked duck as a peaked head/Photo Courtesy of Dr. Madeline Kalbach

    The ring-necked duck can be confused with lesser scaup as they both gather in fresh water in winter. Of the two, the ring-necked duck is less commonly seen. The ring-necked duck has a peaked head and a white “spur” on the sides of their breast. Look for ring-necked ducks in small ponds surrounded by woodlands, although they will feed in sheltered, brackish waters.

    Uncover more about ring-necked ducks...

  • Surf Scoter

    Surf scoters have a compact and strong bill used to collect shellfish from rocks/Photo Courtesy of Dr. Madeline Kalbach

    This sea duck has a compact and stout bill that it uses to pull shellfish from rocks underwater. Surf scoters often travel in mixed flocks with white-winged and less common black scoters. It is occassionally seen during fall, winter and spring.

    Learn more about surf scoters...

  • Trumpeter Swan

    Trumpeter swans can be distinguished from tundra swans by the "V" of white on their foreheads where the bill connects/Photo Courtesy of Dr. Madeline Kalbach

    The largest swan in North American, the trumpeter is a uncommon winter visitor to the refuge. Preferring wooded ponds and wet fields, this swan uses its long neck to dig for tubers, roots and aquatic invertebrates.

    Learn more about the trumpeter swan…

  • Wood Duck

    Male wood ducks are boldly colored/Photo Courtesy of Dr. Madeline Kalbach

    The wood duck has short legs and strong claws to help it perch in trees. The wood duck is present in the refuge year round, but is not always seen.

    Find out more unusual facts about wood ducks…

Page Photo Credits — Male mallard - ©Dr. Madeline Kalbach, American wigeon - © Dr. Madeline Kalbach, Blue-winged teal - USFWS, Cinnamon teal - © Dr. Madeline Kalbach, Green-winged teal - ©Dr. Madeline Kalbach, Brant - USFWS, Bufflehead - © Dr. Madeline Kalbach, Canada goose and chick - © Rollin Bannow, Cackling goose - © Dr. Madeline Kalbach, Greater white-fronted geese - ©Dr. Madeline Kalbach, Common goldeneye - © Dr. Madeline Kalbach, Common merganser - © Dr. Madeline Kalbach, Female greater scaup - ©Dr. Madeline Kalbach, Female lesser scaup - ©Dr. Madeline Kalbach, Northern pintail ©Rollin Bannow, Male northern shoveler - ©Dr. Madeline Kalbach, Ring-necked duck - ©Dr. Madeline Kalbach, Wood duck - ©Dr. Madeline Kalbach, Male surf scoter - ©Dr. Madeline Kalbach, Trumpeter swan - ©Dr. Madeline Kalbach
Last Updated: Apr 15, 2014
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