Female Duck ID Quiz

The answer can be found here

Female duck IDFemale Duck

I photographed this female duck yesterday morning at Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area (also known as Farmington Bay Bird Refuge) in northern Utah, she was on ice that was covered by frost flowers and was moving towards a group of males that were in open water. I love those frost flowers.

Usually I can ID male ducks but female ducks give me trouble at times and I am working at strengthening those skills. I know which species this one is and thought I’d give you the chance to figure out what species this female is. The quiz is open for until midnight January 9th and I will provide the answer on the morning of January 10th.

Can you figure it out?



  1. hummingbirdlover January 9, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    Hi! I knew it was either the blue or green Teal ? Not sure so I think the Blue? Ha ha I love the ice flowers!! Still no snow here! Darn

    • Mia McPherson January 10, 2013 at 5:30 am

      Hope you get some snow soon Mom, there is a storm coming in today that will bring us more. It is a Green-winged Teal by the way 🙂

  2. Laurence Butler January 8, 2013 at 8:46 pm

    Love those snow flowers Mia, beautiful shot.

    • Laurence Butler January 8, 2013 at 8:50 pm

      The smaller size and black mandibles narrow it to the Teals, and this one is missing the bolder white around the eye and base of the mandibles that denote one of the female Teal species.

      • Mia McPherson January 10, 2013 at 5:29 am

        It is a female teal Laurence.

    • Mia McPherson January 10, 2013 at 5:29 am

      Thanks Laurence.

  3. Loekie January 8, 2013 at 6:12 pm

    This sure is a tough one without seeing the boys. But after doing quite a search it looks to me like a female Green-winged Teal. First I thought it was maybe a young female Mallard Duck, but changed my mind. Thanks so much for doing this ID quiz, fun. And I like the frost flowers, very neat!

  4. Elijah Goodwin January 8, 2013 at 4:42 pm

    Tough one Mia, particularly since the speculum is not very visible and you have to go with the tail. Love the frost flowers!

    • Mia McPherson January 10, 2013 at 5:29 am

      Thanks Elijah! Good to see you back again.

  5. Merrill Ann Gonzales January 8, 2013 at 12:50 pm

    The gadwall in my Audubon guidebook… has a yellow mandible. Whereas the green-winged teal has a dark mandible. The gadwell seems to be a bit more husky than the teal also…but can’t really tell as sometimes you can’t compare photo to photo about things like that.

  6. Merrill Ann Gonzales January 8, 2013 at 12:46 pm

    Hi, Mia, I was surprised that it appears to be the green-winged teal… my Audubon guide confirmed my suspicions. I was glad to see so many others had the same idea. She’s a gorgeous duck for sure… love the shape of the head and the angle of her stride in this shot. I too, especially love those frost flowers! Thanks for the fun of our guessing game. Now I really feel that I’m out in the virtual “field”! Many thanks. 🙂

    • Mia McPherson January 10, 2013 at 5:28 am

      Thank you Merrill! She is a beauty and those frost flowers are divine!

  7. M. Firpi January 8, 2013 at 10:06 am

    I had to go to Peterson, iBird, and NG to conclude the same as Syl.

    • Mia McPherson January 10, 2013 at 5:27 am

      Yes, a Green-winged Teal!

  8. Sherry in MT January 8, 2013 at 9:39 am

    I agree with Larry, easier when the boys are hanging out. Looking at Ducks.org (my favorite online duck id site) I’d agree with Syl, green-winged teal the markings are right. Looked at the Gadwall but they look to have more black on their tails. Tough tho but here is what I found:
    Blue Winged Teal Female: Female blue-winged teal have a brownish-gray head with a darker crown and eye stripe. The breast and sides are brown, the upper parts are olive brown, and the upper wing coverts are bluish, but less vibrant than the drake. The bill is gray-black and the legs and feet are dull yellow-brown. The female has a high-pitched squeak…Cornell also mentioned: Scalloped dark brown pattern on breast and belly (the breast and sides are brown, this girls breast is very much white). Green Winged Teal Female: Female green-winged teal are mottled brown with a dark brown line that extends from the bill through the eye. The bill is dark gray and the legs and feet are olive-gray to brownish-gray. Relatively silent but has a sharp, high “quack” when flushed.

    • Mia McPherson January 10, 2013 at 5:26 am

      You got it Sherry, Green-winged Teal female!

  9. Susan January 8, 2013 at 9:15 am

    I’m terrible at identifying female ducks, but gave it a go anyway, I love the frost flowers in this photo and the way this duck seems to be carefully walking through them

    • Mia McPherson January 10, 2013 at 5:25 am

      Thank you Susan, yes, it looks like she is walking through a garden of frost flowers!

  10. Syl Lobato January 8, 2013 at 9:04 am

    from what I see in the book, it is a Green-winged Pintail..

    • Mia McPherson January 10, 2013 at 5:25 am

      Close Syl, you said Green-winged Pintail.. actually a Green-winged Teal!

  11. Tami January 8, 2013 at 9:00 am

    Wow – what amazing frost flowers, Mia. And to capture a duck wading through them – what perfect timing. Can’t wait to see the answer – thanks for a fun challenge this morning!

    • Mia McPherson January 10, 2013 at 5:24 am

      Tami, the frost flowers are amazing and they seem to change everyday. Thanks for commenting.

  12. Syl Lobato January 8, 2013 at 8:59 am

    Not sure, but went is Gadwall, but it could very well be a Green-winged Teal..off to my Audobon Book. Great photo..love the snow and ice crystals..really pops the duck out..have a great day..I will doing a wood duck on stone today..they are challenging..

  13. Larry Jordan January 8, 2013 at 7:23 am

    I love bird quizzes Mia and this is a tough one. I wouldn’t want to give it away in a comment but when I first started birding and asked a more experienced birder how he could tell the female ducks apart he said, “It’s easy! Just look at who she is hanging out with!”

    • Mia McPherson January 10, 2013 at 5:23 am

      Thanks Larry, your mentor on duck ID had it right, look at who she is hanging out with!

  14. Ken January 8, 2013 at 6:04 am

    Mia, good idea to have a quiz on your blog.

    This will really create a lot of interest and boost your gtraffic.

    Best wishes


Comments are closed.