February 8, 2007

A small black duck

Earlier this week, and again today, I saw several ducks that were significantly smaller than a Mallard and were coal-black in color, including the head, with a white bill. I searched google but didn't find a picture of the ducks I saw. There is a brown duck called the American Black Duck, but that wasn't what I saw. The ducks I saw were, maybe, half the size of a Mallard.

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

Was it, perhaps, an "American Coot"

American Coot (Mud hen) Body dark slate gray. Bill white, chicken-like; tail feathers short and stubby.

Allen said...

Thanks for the link. The birds I saw had a coal-black body with a bright white bill. I didn't notice a red spot between the eyes, and I didn't look at the feet. The picture you linked to had the wrong body-color, but that picture is better than anything I found in Google images.

I wanted to take a picture of them, but before I did that, our weather turned warm, and almost all of the hundreds of birds that were in the river during the river are gone.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Allen. I saw the same bird in Upstate NY, I did not notice the red, and the body appeared smaller than the American Coot.

Anonymous said...

We saw the same ducks in Canandaigua Lake in upstate new york, have never seen ducks like this before...... hope we can figure out what they are.

tkejre said...

According to the Arizona Game and Fish Department the fowl you saw had to be an American Coot. The immature Coot can be dark gray in color, but when fully mature they are coal black with a white bill. Technically the American Coot is not a duck (no webbed feet), but waterfowl. It is a migratory bird and therefore protected to some extent. It has quite a varied migratory pattern and can be found from New York to Southern Mexico. It is particularly fond of winters in Florida. Although American Coots are generally a mid-sized fowl some are indeed much smaller. The cause of this has never really been established, but is considered to be environmental. Only one other bird; this one is a duck, the Southern Pochard, has the same color pattern (black body with white bill), but it is sub-saharan and will be found in African countries, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, Argentina. Vagrant to Trinidad and Surinam. The easies way to tell would be to look at the feet. If your fowl has webbed feet then I'm wrong. This is a pretty good website...see if this is the bird you saw. http://www.birds.cornell.edu/AllAboutBirds/BirdGuide/American_Coot.html

Allen said...

That picture looks, in general, like the birds I've been seeing. The next time I see them, I'll look at their feet and at their bill for the shape and black marks.

Tammy said...

I live in Oregon on the canal of a
lake. I was just trying to find out what kind of duck that we have
had in the water all winter. It is
small, black about 1/2 the size of the Mallard ducks. There are about
a dozen of the ducks in our water.
They dive and stay under water for quite some time. Their heads bob forward and back while they're swimming. The American Coot is close but not the exact same coloring. I watched a show on the nature channel about a bird in artic that looked similiar and behaved the same. I wondered if maybe they migrate to the Northwest
for the winter?
Tammy

Allen said...

I saw two black ducks yesterday. They were about the size of mallard ducks. Every part of them was dark black except for their throat and breast which were white. They had webbed feet.

Anonymous said...

I live in Evansville,IN and I have seen the same described ducks. the ones I seen are coal black body and head and they have coal black web feet. they all had a solid white bill. they were like described earlier as half the size of a mallard.

Wyatt and his mommy said...

Tammy your duck in Oregon may be a Harlequin duck. Those are in the Puget Sound too.

Allen said...

For pictures of the black ducks that have a black bill but a white splotch on their breast, click here.

Anonymous said...

im sorry, this is a response to one of your blog posts from 2007, i googled something about a black duck with a white bill and came across your page, i saw the stuff about the american coot so i looked into my Birds book and found that what we have seen is the eurasian coot..
i will post a picture of it on my flickr account.

http://flickr.com/photos/coinpurse/

sorry for the 2 year delayed response :p

Christie said...

These small black duck like birds with the white bill sure do travel. I was picking my son up from school and on the way home we saw one. It was in a small pond in Cross Plains, Tn about 30 miles north of Nashville. I looked for my camera but unfortunately my daughter took it out of my purse. I will try to get picture if I see it again.

Anonymous said...

There are several of these black body white bill birds on a small lake outside of Monmouth, Illinois. I've been searching for an indentification.

Anonymous said...

I found a black duck at my home in Indianapolis, and I think it is "American coot" but it is soooooo much larger than that. Body is slate gray with a snow white bill.

Anonymous said...

I just saw several of the duck you describe on Geist Lake here in Indianapolis...never saw them before.We have lived on the lake 5 yrs. There are alot of old "coots"living around here but these were the duck kind

Allen said...

I saw two black ducks with white bills again. See my post for October 17, 2009 for details.

Anonymous said...

I saw 10-20 birds meeting this description in McQueeney, Texas over the Thanksgiving weekend. Definitely not black ducks. Could be the American coot, but I didn't notice the chicken shaped bill. Small dark gray body with black head, white beak and white spot on tail. They skittered across the water with big feet when approached by boat.

Anonymous said...

I live in central Kentucky on the farm I work for I have seen the exact bird you have described. As the nes you have seen they are small bodied black Not a chance you would call them gray and just the bill is white. The white is contained to the bill annd does not continue between the eyes as the eurasian coot like one person described. I can not comment on the feet the times I have seen this bird it was in the water.there are also some mallards that it will stay around in the lake when they are also there. This bird has always been alone and struck me as odd considering you see most water fowl in pairs or groups. That lead me to wonder if like some they mate for life and this one has possibly lost its mate some how. When I can get a pic I will post it so you can see of it is the same one.

Anonymous said...

HI! I'm in southeast Michigan, and I noticed what I was calling a black duck, with a small white bill. they are slightly smaller than the normal Michigan ducks, after searching many sites, this is the post that got me to find this little guy's picture! it is the American Coot! thank you!

Allen said...

Hi Anon,

Thanks for identifying the American Coot for us. During the past year I've seen a lot of American Coots in the river, and I've learned to recognize their unique chirping sound.

Allen said...

During my run today I saw a coot up close, and it is definitely the type of duck that I referred to in this post. Smaller than a Mallard. The body is solid black (or a very dark gray), and a pure white bill. I've seen lots of them in the river at a distance during the past year, but this is the first one I've seen up close.

iso18 said...

killed my 1st wv black duck the other day.Saw about 100 american coots"waterfowl that have a white chicken like beak and bob there head and dive continuously/"They have to run on the water 4 quite aways b4 take off bcause ther feet r positioned almost at the rear of there body like all diving ducks.

If it flies it dies....
shane

Anonymous said...

I live in Southern IL and have seen these beautiful lil black ducks with white bills the last cpl years in back water from the flooding!I have asked several ppl what kind they are and noone could tell me!Glad I finally found my answer!

Martha said...

We live in Mason, Ohio, and walk everyday at Pine Hill Park in Mason. For about a wek we have seen three black (guinea hen body type) ducks, smaller than a mallard, and with what seems to be white beaks rather than bills. They love to dive, and today they seemed to interact with each other. Two of them joined a group of mallards to investigate the bread I left on the side of the bank. They seem reclusive, and to like to return to the branch tangled side of the water often. They were especially fun to watch when they got out of the water and walked around on the bank to look for food. Insects? Today they ate some of the bread I left. Tomorrow I will take binoculars to look at their feet.