Ducks at a Distance | Wildlife Identification - NSSF Let's Go Hunting

Ducks at a Distance | Wildlife Identification

Developing wildlife identification skills is a basic requirement for hunters. Knowing the key characteristics of animals will help you distinguish between similar species and between the male and female of the same species.


Waterfowl are warm-blooded animals that live on or near water, and include diving ducks and puddle ducks.

Puddle Duck

Puddle ducks are found primarily on the shallows of lakes, rivers, and freshwater marshes. Puddle ducks prefer to feed on or near the water’s surface. They launch themselves directly upward when taking off.

Diving Duck

Diving ducks inhabit large deep lakes and rivers, coastal bays, and inlets. Diving ducks obtain most of their food by diving. They must run across the water to build up speed to take off.

Ducks at a Distance Guide

This waterfowl identification guide is an important tool that all waterfowl hunters should familiarize themselves with. This guide will help you recognize birds on the wing, it emphasizes their fall and winter plumage patterns as well as size, shape, and flight characteristics.

Hunters can contribute to their own sport by not firing at those species that are either protected or scarce and needed as breeders to restore the flocks. It can add to their daily limit; when extra birds of certain species can be taken legally, hunters who know their ducks on the wing come out ahead.

After ensuring one can identify the different waterfowl species in the area they will be hunting this checklist will help duck hunters ensure they have met the requirements to go afield such as a State Hunting License, Federal Waterfowl Stamp, State Duck Stamp, permission to hunt in a location, and non-toxic shot in shotgun shells.

Hunter Education

Need a Hunter Safety Certificate? Start an online hunter safety education course for your state at works with state agencies to produce a hunter safety education course that’s accurate, interesting, and easy to understand.

Find a place to hunt near you!