Magnify and Expand

Mottled Duck


Mottled ducks have a limited breeding range from Florida to the Western Gulf Coast. Breeding areas include both inland freshwater and coastal marshes. Most nests reside in marsh cord grass, hay fields, cattle fields and on well drained levees above tidal waters. Mottled duck hens lay an average of 9 eggs.


Latin: Anas fulvigula

Average length: M 10.3", F 9.8"

Average weight: M 2.3 lbs., F 2.1 lbs.


The Mottled duck can be confused with American Black ducks and hen mallards. While both drakes and hens have very similar plumages, the hen is a slightly lighter shade of brown. The mottled duck is a lighter color than the black duck and its blue to green iridescent wing patches (compared to a purple iridescence in black ducks) are rimmed with black (sometimes with a narrow band of white) rather than a distinct white edge as on the hen mallard. The mottled duck is a southern species found all along the entire Gulf Coast and the southern Atlantic Coast. The bill of the drake is solid yellow, while the hen has more of a yellow orangish tint with black spots. The legs and feet can be a dull to bright shade of orange for both sexes.

Mottled Duck Range Map

Food Habits

Mottled ducks are dabblers which feed mostly on aquatic vegetation and invertebrates in shallow waters.


There are two distinct populations of mottled ducks within their range: the Florida population and the western Gulf Coast population. The Florida population resides in central and southern Florida, while the Gulf Coast population extends from the Alabama Gulf Coast to the Laguna Madre in Mexico. Band recovery data has shown there is no intermingling between these two populations. 

Historical surveys of the Florida mottled duck population are now considered unreliable due to evidence of hybridization with feral mallards, although their population is believed to be fairly stable. The western Gulf Coast population has seen a marked decline since the early 2000s, with some estimates suggesting a 50% reduction in population size since that time. Reasons for this decline are unclear, although several studies point to a drop in reproductive success as a primary concern.

Migration and Wintering

Mottled ducks are a southern species and are non-migratory. They are only known to move short distances to find adequate breeding and nesting grounds.