Ducks that typically feed in and around shallow water. When they feed, puddle ducks skim their beaks along the surface or stick their heads under water, leaving their feet sticking up out of the water. In takeoff, puddle ducks spring up off the water.
Green-winged Teal Smallest of puddle ducks, about ¾ pound, up to 14 inches long. Male: tan chest with dark spots, head is cinnamon with iridescent green eye mask. Speculum (trailing edge of wing next to body) is iridescent green and black. Swift and erratic flyers. Female: mottled brown body with wings like male.
Blue-winged Teal Small duck, less than 1 pound, 12–16 inches long. Male: often mottled brown body, feet dull gold. Coverts (wing shoulder) is sky blue with trailing white bar. Speculum is green. Erratic flyers. Female: similar to male except white bar is less distinct.
Shoveler Medium-sized duck, 1¼ – 1½ pounds, 18–20 inches long. Male: early season will have mottled gray-brown body. Late season will have cinnamon belly and iridescent green head. Broad, spoon-shaped bill. Coverts are sky blue with trailing white bar. Speculum is green. Shaft of primary feathers is distinctively white. Female: drab brown, spoon-shaped bill. Coverts are tinged sky blue with trailing white bar. Green speculum.
Wood Duck Medium-sized duck, up to 1½ pounds, 15-18 inches long. Male: dark iridescent back, cinnamon chest, tan sides. Red eyes and multi-colored bill. Coverts and speculum are iridescent green, purple and blue with trailing white bar. Female: drab brown, white eye ring, black bill. Wings similar to male, but with teardrop-shaped white trailing edge.
Mallard Large duck, 2½ – 3 pounds, 24-28 inches long. Male: chestnut chest, dark rump, white tail. Brilliant green head, yellow-ish bill. Speculum is bright blue with leading and trailing white bars. Female: drab brown, white tail. Orange bill with dark blotches. Wings similar to male with leading white bar extending towards body.
Pintail Large duck, 2 – 2½ pounds, 22-27 inches long. Male: white neck, chest and belly. Brown head, blue bill with black strip down the middle. Elongated black tail. Gray wing, iridescent green-bronze speculum. Speculum has dark tan leading edge and white trailing edge. Female: drab brown with gray-blue bill. Wings are brown with a duller bronze speculum than male.
Gadwall Medium-sized duck, 1½ – 2 pounds, 18-20 inches long. Male: gray-brown body, white belly. Dark bill. Coverts are cinnamon trailing into black. White speculum. Female: mottled brown with white belly. Yellow-orange bill. Wings are similar to males but with less color on the wing. White speculum.
American Wigeon Medium-sized duck, 1½ – 2 pounds, 18-20 inches long. Male: tan back and sides, white belly. Crown of head is white, green eye-mask. Short, gray-blue bill. Coverts are white, speculum is green shading to black. Female: mottled brown with distinct white belly. Gray head with dark speckles, gray-blue bill. Brown coverts edged with white. Speculum is dull greenish black.
Ducks that typically feed in 10-15 feet of water. These ducks dive down to feed and may stay under the water for a significant period of time feeding off the bottom. In takeoff, diving ducks often run across the water before becoming airborne.
Canvasback Large duck, up to 3 pounds, 18-21 inches long. Male: Body mostly white. Black chest and rump. Head and neck are burnished red. Forehead slopes into black bill. Red eyes. Grayish wing with pearl gray speculum. Feet stretch beyond tail in flight.
Female: Gray-brown body. Head, neck and rump are darker brown. Wings similar to male.
Redhead Medium-sized duck, 2 – 2½ pounds, 20-22 inches long. Male: Body mostly gray, chest and rump are black. White belly. Head is rusty red, bill is gray with a white band towards the tip. Wings are gray-brown. Pearl gray speculum. Female: Gray-brown body, white belly. Pale or white around eye and base of bill. Both bill and wing are similar to males.
Lesser Scaup Medium-sized duck, 1¾ – 2 pounds, 15-18 inches long. Male: Grayish back, white sides and belly. Chest and rump black. Head is a purplish black. Bill is light blue, short and broad. Wings are dark brown with white flecking. Speculum is white. Female: dull brown with white belly. White patch at base of bill. Bill and wings are similar to male.
Ring-necked Duck Medium-sized duck, 1½ – 2 pounds, 16-18 inches long. Male: Back, chest and rump black. White belly, head is blackish-purple with faint chestnut ring around neck. Bill is gray with white band at base and towards tip. Wings are dark gray. Speculum is pearl gray. Female: blackish-brown back. Brown head, neck and sides. White belly. White eye ring, patch at base of bill. Bill and wing are similar to male.
Photos: Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife (top); The Raw Spirit (all others)