American Black Duck, Anas rubripes
American Black Ducks are primarily found in eastern North America, ranging from northeastern United States through eastern Canada. They inhabit a variety of wetland habitats, including freshwater marshes, estuaries, tidal flats, and shallow coastal areas. During the breeding season, they prefer wooded swamps and marshes near rivers or ponds.
American Black Ducks have dark brown to blackish plumage, with a lighter face and body underparts. Males and females have similar appearances, making them difficult to distinguish. They are known to hybridize with other closely related species, particularly Mallards. This hybridization can result in offspring with intermediate characteristics, leading to challenges in identifying pure individuals of each species.
American Black Ducks are dabbling ducks. They feed primarily by tipping forward in shallow water, grazing on submerged vegetation, and occasionally upending to reach deeper food sources. Their diet consists of plant matter such as seeds, grasses, aquatic plants, and agricultural crops. They also consume small invertebrates like insects, snails, and crustaceans. They feed both during the day and at night.
They are often shy and wary, tending to stay hidden in dense vegetation and flush easily when approached by humans or predators. This behavior makes them a challenging species to observe closely.
American Black Ducks typically nest in marshes or wooded wetlands, constructing their nests on the ground close to water. The female selects the nest site, which is often concealed among dense vegetation or under shrubs. The nest itself is a shallow depression lined with grasses, leaves, and down feathers. They may reuse old nests or build new ones from scratch.
The female American Black Duck usually lays a clutch of 6 to 12 creamy-white or pale greenish eggs, one per day. Incubation, which is primarily performed by the female, lasts for about 28 to 30 days. Once the eggs hatch, the female leads the ducklings to water, often on the same day. The ducklings are precocial, able to swim and feed themselves shortly after hatching.
Both the male and female American Black Ducks provide parental care to their offspring. The ducklings feed on a diet primarily consisting of small aquatic invertebrates, insects, and plant matter. The parents protect and guide the young, teaching them to forage, swim, and avoid predators. The ducklings become increasingly independent as they grow, but family groups may remain together for several months.
American Black Duck ducklings fledge, or acquire their flight feathers, at around 45 to 60 days after hatching. Once they fledge, they can fly short distances and gradually develop stronger flight capabilities.
In winter, American Black Ducks undertake seasonal migrations, often moving southward to find more favorable feeding grounds and milder climates. They can be found in a variety of winter habitats, including coastal areas, estuaries, and freshwater marshes.