The Mottled Duck is intermediate in appearance between the female mallard and the American black duck. It is closely related to those species, and is sometimes considered a subspecies of the former, but this is inappropriate. Along the Gulf of Mexico coast, the mottled duck is one of the most frequently banded waterfowl. This is due in part to the fact that it is mostly non-migratory. Approximately one out of every twenty mottled ducks is banded, making it an extremely prized and sought after bird among hunters.
Appearance: – The male Mottled Duck has a light-buff head and neck, a dark crown and eye-stripe, dark-brown eyes, yellow beak, a dark-brown body with black spots on the breast and black markings on the body, dark-brown tail, dark-brown wings with shiny green-blue speculum, and the legs and feet are orange. The female is similar but has an orange beak which is sometimes lined with black splotches at the edge or base.
Size: – Typical Adult is 17-24 inches.
Food: – Mainly plants, but also some molluscs and aquatic insects. Will graze on land or dabble in shallow water.
Habitat: – Coastal marshes, wetlands, and wet grasslands. There are two populations which are both non-migratory with one population residing on the Gulf of Mexico and the other in Florida.
Breeding Season: – Mainly May to June.
Eggs: – 6 to 12 (cream or greenish white color).
Notes: – The Mottled Duck or Mottled Mallard is a medium sized dabbling duck which resembles a female Mallard or American Black Duck which it is related to. There are two distinct populations of Mottled Duck – Anas Fulvigula which is found on the Gulf of Mexico, and Anas Fulvigula Fulvigula found in Florida and called the Florida Duck or Florida Mallard. As with all Mallard ducks they are able to produce fertile hybrids with their close relatives such as the Mallard and American Black Duck but there is currently no cause for concern and they are listed as a separate species. The Mottled Duck is common.
The different types of wild ducks can be grouped into puddle, aka “dabbling” and diving ducks. The dabblers mostly feed in smaller bodies of shallow water or along shorelines, where they are able to tip their bodies forward to reach their food on the bottom. There are divers who feed in deeper water where they dive and pursue their quarry. Some of these birds, the Harlequin Duck for example, actually dives to the bottom of fast-flowing waters and feeds on life forms attached to rocks.