Check out these five ducks that you’ve likely never had the chance to shoot.
Waterfowl hunting has been an incredibly popular American pastime for hundreds of years. Although there are a plethora of duck species inhabiting the continent, most hunters come away with the usual suspects: mallards, pintails, redheads, Canada geese and if you’re lucky, the occasional wood duck.
But whether it’s because of location, scarcity or they’re just tricky little fellas, the following are five species we bet you’ve never hunted.
Unless you’ve visited Asia to hunt its native waterfowl, chances are you’ve never taken a shot at the spotbill. Similar in size to the mallard, the long-necked spotbill has a gorgeous pattern that looks like it has scales and a white stripe that really stands out when the duck is in flight.
The spotbill is also distinctive for its black bill that is tipped in a bright yellow with a red spot at the base. The population ranges from Pakistan to India to Japan, where it makes its habitat in freshwater lakes and marshes.
Although it’s native to Europe, where it’s the most common diving duck species, the tufted duck occasionally makes its way to North American coasts during the winter months. Known best for the plume of feathers on the male’s head, the female tufted duck is therefore often confused with other diving duck species. Tufted ducks prefer to eat mussels and insects found in its habitat of marshes, lakes, ponds and coastal lagoons.
The tiny goldeneye, also known as the whistler, is a tree-hole nesting sea duck related to the bafflehead. With its black and white plumes, the duck is known as the whistler because of the sound made by its flapping wings, not because of its call. Because it breeds strictly in taiga, the duck is generally only found in Canada and the northernmost areas of the United States, as well as Scandinavia and northern Russia, where it nests in the cavities of large trees.
The goldeneye represents about only four percent of waterfowl killed in North America.
Not well-known outside of birdwatching circles, the long-tailed duck is named for the male’s long pointed tail feathers. Long-tailed ducks breed in the tundra, and are generally found near Atlantic coastlines of North America and Europe, extending to Alaska and Russia. As they are migratory ducks, however, the species can be found along the banks of the Great Lakes during the winter months when the ducks form into large flocks.
Largely migratory, the falcated duck can be found nesting in Russia, North Korea and China before it travels to spend the winter in India, Bangladesh, Laos and Vietnam. With a global population of only about 89,000 ducks, the species relies heavily on coastal wetlands. Largely hunted for food and feathers, the falcated duck is classified as near-threatened and is, therefore, found in a number of wildlife preserves and protected areas, including California’s Colusa National Wildlife Refuge.
Start planning your trip to hunt, or at least see, one of these elusive ducks!