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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

American Black Duck - Anas rubripes

Native Species
Accidental Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: SNA

Agency Status


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General Description
Males have dark blackish-brownish body feathers with a lighter grayish head, finely streaked neck and olive-colored beak; feet are reddish orange. Female American Black Ducks look similar, but are lighter in color than males. American Black Duck plumage is similar to that of Mallards, however, they lack the bright green head and neck breeding plumage of Mallards (Anas platyrhychos).

For a comprehensive review of the conservation status, habitat use, and ecology of this and other Montana bird species, please see Marks et al. 2016, Birds of Montana.

Species Range

Western Hemisphere Range


Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 52

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density


SUMMER (Feb 16 - Dec 14)
Direct Evidence of Breeding

Indirect Evidence of Breeding

No Evidence of Breeding

WINTER (Dec 15 - Feb 15)
Regularly Observed

Not Regularly Observed


(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)

Pairs form during fall and winter, before spring breeding. Usually arrives on breeding areas already paired; one of first ducks in northern areas before ice thaws (Longcore et al. 2000).

During the breeding season, American Black Ducks nest in wooded swamps, shallow lakes, and wooded wetlands, including beaver ponds and altered wetlands. Migrant American Black Ducks use tidal flats, lakes, ponds, and resevoirs as stopover habitat. Individuals winter in flooded timber, emergent wetlands, and saltmarshes.

Food Habits
Diet consists of insects, worms, aquatic vegetation, along with grass, berries and sometimes grain.

Genetically, the American Black Duck and the Mallard are nearly identical.

Reproductive Characteristics
Typically single-brooded; clutch consisting of 8 to 10 eggs. Eggs are laid in spring with incubation lasting 26 to 29 days. Nests are found in sheltered wooded areas, including thickets and meadows.

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Citation for data on this website:
American Black Duck — Anas rubripes.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from