Discover 4 Rare Ducks in Michigan

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Michigan is home to a variety of ducks, from the common mallard to the rare and beautiful mandarin duck.

In this blog post, we will explore some of the rarest ducks that can be found in the state. We will learn about their appearance, habitat, and behavior.

We will also discuss the threats that these birds face and what can be done to help them.

Rare Ducks in Michigan

Rare Ducks in Michigan: Michigan is home to several rare ducks, including the mandarin duck, the black-bellied whistling duck, and the lesser scaup.

  • Mandarin Duck
  • Black-bellied Whistling Duck
  • Lesser Scaup
  • Ruddy Duck

These ducks are all beautiful and interesting birds, and they play an important role in the state’s ecosystem.

1. Mandarin Duck

Mandarin Duck
Image: Mandarin Duck

Mandarin Ducks are stunning birds originally from East Asia. In the past, they were hunted for their tasty meat and beautiful feathers, causing their population to drop significantly.

However, in the early 1900s, they were brought to Europe and North America as fancy birds. Nowadays, people keep them as pets, and you can often find them in zoos and wildlife parks.

These ducks have strikingly colourful feathers. The males have a green head, red breasts, and blue bill, while the females have a more subtle brown colour on their heads and breast.

They are excellent swimmers and divers, and they can also fly gracefully from one tree to another.

Mandarin Ducks are loyal creatures and form strong bonds with their partners. They make their homes in tree holes or on the ground, where the female lays about 7-12 eggs.

After around 26 days, the eggs hatch, and the baby ducks can swim and dive shortly after being born.

These ducks play an important role in wetland ecosystems. They help keep the populations of plants and insects in check.

People who love birds and enjoy photography also find Mandarin Ducks fascinating.

If you ever get the chance to see a Mandarin Duck in Michigan, consider yourself fortunate! Take a moment to admire its incredible beauty and appreciate how rare it is to come across one.

2. Black-bellied Whistling Duck

Black-bellied Whistling Duck
Image: Black-bellied Whistling Duck

The Black-bellied Whistling Duck is another duck species that can be spotted in Michigan. Unlike most ducks, they are not commonly found in the state. They are considered unusual visitors.

These ducks have a beautiful appearance. They have long necks and long legs, and their bodies are chestnut-brown.

They have bright pink bills and legs and this is their main striking feature. Their pink bill and legs, contrast with their black belly white wings, patches, and bold white stripes on their face.

Black-bellied Whistling Ducks are named for their unique whitling calls, which can often be heard before they are seen.

They are social birds and can be seen in flocks, flying in a V-formation or perched on branches near water bodies.

These ducks prefer tropical and subtropical habitats, such as marshes, ponds, and flooded fields. They feed on a variety of plant matter, including seeds, grains, and aquatic vegetation.

While the Black-bellied Whistling Duck is not a permanent resident of Michigan, it occasionally appears in the state during the migration or as a rare vagrant.

If you are lucky enough to spot one of these ducks in Michigan, it is a special sighting. Take a moment to appreciate their unique beauty and the rarity of their presence in the area.

3. Lesser Scaup

Lesser Scaup
Image: Lesser Scaup

The Lesser Scaup is a type of duck commonly found in Michigan. They are medium-sized diving ducks with distinct features.

The male Lesser Scaup has a black head and neck, a grey body, and a light blue bill with a black tip.

The female, on the other hand, has a brown body with a darker brown head and a bluish bill. Both males and females have bright yellow eyes.

These ducks are excellent divers and spend a lot of time underwater, feeding on aquatic plants, seeds, and small invertebrates.

They can often be seen diving to catch their food or floating on the water’s surface.

During the breeding season, Lesser Scaups build nests near bodies of water, usually concealed among vegetation.

The female lays around 8-12 eggs, and both parents take turns incubating them. After about a month, the eggs hatch, and the ducklings are led by their mother to find food and learn how to dive.

In Michigan, Lesser Scaups can be found in various freshwater habitats, including lakes, rivers, and marshes.

They are migratory birds, spending their winters in coastal areas or large bodies of water. In the spring, they migrate northward to breed and raise their young.

If you come across a Lesser Scaup in Michigan, take a moment to observe their striking appearance and watch their diving skills.

They are a common and interesting sight for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts in the region.

4. Ruddy Duck

Ruddy Duck
Image: Ruddy Duck

The Ruddy Duck is a small and unique type of duck that you can find in Michigan. They have a special look and interesting behaviours.

Ruddy Ducks have short tails, round heads, and different appearances for males and females.

Male Ruddy Ducks have a bright chestnut body, a blue bill, and white cheeks during the breeding season. Females are plainer, with a brown body and a greyish bill.

One fascinating thing about Ruddy Ducks is how they behave during courtship. The males do funny and elaborate displays to attract females, like blowing bubbles and making splashing sounds.

These ducks are great divers and spend a lot of time underwater. They eat plants, insects, and tiny creatures that they find beneath the water’s surface.

They have special features that help them swim underwater, like their compact bodies and lobed toes.

When it’s time to have babies, Ruddy Ducks build their nests in thick plants near the water.

The female lays about 6-10 eggs and takes care of them for about a month. The ducklings can swim and dive on their own shortly after they hatch.

In Michigan, you can see Ruddy Ducks in places like lakes, ponds, and marshes. Some stay there all year, while others migrate to different areas for breeding or winter.

If you ever see a Ruddy Duck in Michigan, take a moment to enjoy its interesting appearance and behaviours. They are a delightful addition to the variety of birds in the state.


Michigan is a beautiful state with a rich diversity of wildlife. The rare ducks that call Michigan home are a testament to the state’s natural beauty. We must do everything we can to protect these birds and their habitat. By working together, we can ensure that these rare ducks will continue to thrive for generations to come

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