Water Birds

Primary Reference Resources:

"Audubon Field Guide to the Mid-Atlantic States" by Peter Alden and Brian Cassie

Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter   Bird Watcher's Digest

Howard County Bird Club




Mallard Ducks (Anas platyrhynchos): Males are much more colorful with green heads, grey wings, purplish chest and a white ring around its neck. Photo by Ken Clark.

Northern Pintail Duck (Anas acuta): Pearl gray body with dark brown head, white chest and neck with line extending up towards the ear with long. thin black tail feathers. Hence the name. Females colored similar to female Mallard.

Wood Duck (Aix sponsa): The male has nearly every color in the rainbow. The female is much more drab with white around the eye and patches of blue, purple, black and white on the wings.

Blue-winged Teal (Anas discors): Dabbler. Male body pinkish brown with black spots. Female mottled brown. Flight reveals powdery blue shoulders. Photo by Anita Mueller.


Common Merganser (Mergus merganser): Large, diving duck. Up to 25 inches. Male - white body, black back, dark green head. Female- gray belly and back, rusty head with ragged crest, white chin and white neck. Photos by Anita Mueller.

Ring-Necked Duck (Aythya collaris): A diver. Both sexes exhibit patterned bills. Prefers freshwater ponds, lakes and rivers. Photos by Anita Mueller.

American Black Duck (Anas rubripes): Dark brown body, wings and top of head. Light brown neck and face. Dark eye line. Flight reveals blue patch and white under-wing coverts. Found mostly in the eastern part of the Mid-Atlantic. Photo by Anita Mueller.

Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata): A dabbler. Male has glossy green head and large black bill. Female brown speckled often with an orange bill. Flight reveals chalky blue shoulders. Photo by Anita Mueller.


Canada Geese (Branta canadensis): Migratory but resident in most of the region. Flies in V formations. Photo by Anita Mueller.

Snow Geese (Chen caerulescens): Entirely white except for outer flight feathers which are black. Migratory. Found locally in March - April and October -November. Location: Middle Creek, PA. Photo by Ken Clark.

Mute Swan (Cygnus olor): Introduced from Europe. Considered invasive in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. Attacks dogs and humans if they feel their nesting area is endangered. Photo by Anita Mueller.


Belted Kingfisher (Ceryle alcyon): Female similar in color but has a rufous band on its belly. Found along streams, creeks and rivers, coastal areas in the winter. Hovers over water then dives to catch small fish, amphibians and crawfish. Kills its catch before eating by either slapping it against a tree or continually dropping it on a rock. Photo by Anita Mueller.

Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus): A diving fisherman. Photo by Anita Mueller.



Herring Gull (Larus argentatus): Both young (shown here) and adult somewhat similar to the above Ring-billed Gull except these birds are much larger (25 inches VS 19 inches), Adult Herring Gulls have a long neck and gray belly. The Ring-billed has a markedly shorter neck and white belly.

Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus): With a wingspan of 5 feet, 5 inches this is the largest of all gulls. Red spot on beak. It takes several years to obtain full mature color pattern. Lower photo is of a young bird in its first winter. Photos by Anita Mueller.

Laughing Gulls (Larus atricilla) - It's call will tell you from whence it gets its name. Location: Cape Henlopen, DE. Photo by Ken Clark.

Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis): Nineteen inches in length but with a wing span of four feet. Shown here in winter plumage. In the summer it's body and head is snow white. The obvious black ring on its bill is the source of its name. Lower photo is of a young bird in its first winter. Photo by Anita Mueller.

Ruddy Turnstones (Arenaria interpres) - Small, short legged shore bird. Reaches a length of 7 inches. Location: Cape Henlopen. Photo by Ken Clark.


Shore Birds


Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias): Another good fisherman. Photo by Sue Muller. They like to nest at the top of dead trees. Photo by Anita Mueller.

Green Heron (Butorides viresens): At nineteen inches it is rather small compared to the above Great Blue. Also has shorter legs relative to the body. "Fishes" from atop logs and overhanging limbs. Photo by Anita Mueller.

Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca): A bird of brackish marshes and fresh water ponds. The Lesser Yellowlegs is similar but smaller in size and has a smaller bill relative to its head. Photo by Anita Mueller.

Solitary Sandpiper (Tringa solitaria): Dark brown with white belly and eye ring and greenish bill. Lives along ponds ditches and streamsides. Photo by Anita Mueller.

Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus) A plover that can be found miles away from any substantial body of water. Only Plover with a double black breast band. Immature birds will have a single breast band. Parents faint a broken wing to draw predators away from its hatchlings. Hatchlings born able to see and walk and begin foraging almost immediately. Photo by Anita Mueller.

Semipalmated Plover (Charadrius semipalmatus): Similar to above Kildeer but with 2 black bands instead of 3. Habitat beaches and mud flats, coaxtal and fresh water lakes. Photo by Anita Mueller.



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