Of all of the waterbirds in the world, it’s fair to say that ducks continue to reign as the most popular.
Not only are there hundreds of different species, each as colorful as the last, but their inquisitive nature and famous calls make them a favorite among adults and children alike.
If you’ve spotted a green-headed duck in your local park or lake recently and you weren’t quite able to place it, you’ve come to the right place!
Below, you’ll find a list of ducks with green heads. Not only this, but we’ll also look at their other identifying features, talk about where you can spot them, diet, and more.
Male American Wigeon
Found predominantly in Alaska during the breeding season, the male American Wigeon sports vibrant green stripes on either side of its head along with gray-black mottled feathers across the rest of its face.
It also has a slate-gray breast, white underparts, and black-tipped wings and tails.
Conversely, the female American Wigeon has gray-brown feathers all over and doesn’t have a green striped head.
American Wigeons can also be found in Western Canada during the breeding season between the Midwest and the Rockies.
However, come fall, they’ll begin their long migration South to the Southern US States flanked by Pacific and Atlantic coasts to spend their winter in warmer temperatures.
Unlike many ducks, the American Wigeon nests quite far away from the water, usually in grasslands and fields. This keeps their eggs and their young well protected from predators and from any sudden increase in water level.
The American Wigeon is a dabbling duck, feeding on vegetation in the water and on land. It also eats invertebrates and insects, both land-dwelling and aquatic.
Male Wood Duck
One of the most striking green-headed ducks in all of North America, the male Wood Duck has an emerald-green crest flanked with pure-white markings as well as a green patch over each eye.
It also has an iridescent brown breast dotted with white markings, a brown back and tail, and flashes of blue across the rest of its body.
Wood Ducks are a common sight across the Eastern United States, along the Pacific Coast, and in parts of the Northwest.
Those that choose the Canadian border for their breeding grounds will migrate further South during winter, but, for the most part, Wood Ducks remain in the same place all year round.
They nest and roost in tree cavities near a source of water in wooded swamps and here they also have easy access to their preferred food sources.
These include aquatic insects, seeds, and fruit. They aren’t scared to venture further inland when food becomes scarce, either.
Male Common Goldeneye
It’s pretty clear where the Common Goldeneye gets its name from! Each of these ducks’ eyes is a bright yellow color with a small white dot underneath.
Its entire head is also covered in iridescent green feathers that contrast beautifully with its yellow eye, while the rest of its body is covered with pure white and jet-black feathers.
The female Common Goldeneye doesn’t have a green head and, instead, sports grayish-brown feathers.
Resident in North America, the Common Goldeneye spends the breeding season in Alaska and Canada before migrating South for the winter.
They aren’t particularly fussy about what source of water they live by, as long as there are surrounding trees with cavities to nest and roost in.
The Common Goldeneye is a diving duck that feeds on a variety of prey including insects, fish, crayfish, fish eggs, shrimp, and crabs.
You might think that the last of these is a difficult thing for a duck to eat but, with their strong black bills, the Common Goldeneye has no issues cracking into a crab’s tough shell.
Male Northern Shoveler
The male Northern Shoveler has a couple of features that make it pretty easy to identify. The first is its large, spoon-shaped black bill.
The second is its iridescent green head that contrasts beautifully with its bright yellow eyes. Along with these green feathers, it has rust-red sides, white underparts, and black backs, along with blue patches on either wing.
Females don’t have a green head and, instead, sport a blue shoulder patch and a bright orange beak.
This green-headed duck spends winter in the Southern States before migrating North (often as far as Canada) for the breeding season.
Regardless of where they are in the world at any given time, their grouping habits remain the same – living in sociable flocks in shallow water.
The Northern Shoveler nests in short vegetation on the ground, close to the water. Here, a breeding couple will raise their brood together until the time comes to migrate.
This habitat also gives them convenient access to aquatic invertebrates and crustaceans to feed on.
They have a unique feeding habit, too. The Northern Shoveler will stir up the mud at the bottom of the water by swinging their bill from side to side.
They’ll then take a large mouthful before filtering it out of a comb-like projection along the edge of their bill called “lamellae”. This catches the food and allows everything else to pass through.
One of North America’s most common ducks, the Male Mallard is also one of the most recognizable ducks.
It has a large, iridescent green head, bright yellow bill, and dark gray wings with blue patches that are flanked with white. It also has white underparts and a black back.
Females and juveniles are covered with mottled-brown feathers and have an orange bill and blue speculum.
Resident to all of the United States throughout the year, Mallards tend to stay in the same place all year round.
Only those that breed in Alaska and Canada head further South for the winter. Wherever they are in the country, their habitat remains the same – ponds, lakes, and rivers.
Mallards are herbivorous ducks as well, and feed on aquatic plants and vegetation. They are also very long-lived, and there are records of Mallards living up to 27 years old.
Male Green-Winged Teal
Measuring around 13-inches on average, the Green-Winged Teal is one of the smaller species of ducks on our list.
As you may have guessed from its name, this duck has a small emerald green patch on each wing.
It also sports a green patch across each eye that runs to the back of its rust-red head, while the rest of its body is covered with black and white feathers.
Green-Winged Teals spend the breeding season in Alaska, Canada, and some Northern States.
As soon as temperatures drop, they’ll take to the skies and migrate to the Southern States from British Columbia down. Those that reside in the Rocky Mountains may remain there all year if temperatures allow.
These dabbling ducks feed on seeds and invertebrates.
They also build their nests on the ground in the grass, thickets, or other thick vegetation. This keeps them and their young concealed and protected from predators.
Male Greater Scaup
Very similar in appearance to the Lesser Scaup, the male Greater Scaup has a dark green head and bright yellow eyes. It also has white wings, a black tail, and gray-mottled upper parts.
The breast is also black and it has a pale blue bill with a black tip. The main difference between the Lesser and Greater Scaup, however, is that the Greater Scaup has a much rounder-shaped head.
You can spot the Greater Scaup on the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts during the winter.
Come spring, they head to their Alaskan and Canadian breeding grounds and huge numbers can be seen out at sea in a spectacle known as a “raft”.
The Greater Scaup constructs its nest on the ground out of down feathers and grass, usually building within a small existing depression within the ground.
Here, they will incubate their eggs and raise their young until fall comes around and it’s time to migrate.
This green-headed duck is a diving duck that feeds on plants and invertebrates at the bottom of lakes. They will also dive into shallow sea waters in search of something to eat.
There are loads of different species of ducks in the world, and the above is just a handful of them.
The thing that really separates these from the crowd, however, is that each of them has green markings on their head and, in some cases, their entire head may be covered in green feathers!
So, next time you spot a new duck on a lake or out at sea, be sure to open this list and compare its markings – you may have spotted something you’ve never seen before!