Where to Find Ducks Now


Where to Find Ducks Now
Harlequin Duck
Photo Credit: Deborah
Winter is the best time to see waterfowl in their breeding plumage.  Look nearby for
open areas of water in ponds, reservoirs and even near the beach, and you are likely to see some unusually beautiful winter visitors hanging out.  
Visiting a local national wildlife refuge where bird habitat is protected is a great opportunity to see all kinds of birds throughout the year. But there are some standout locations in winter to see massive quantities of waterfowl.  You will need binoculars at all these places, and if you have a scope you won’t be sorry to have it along.  But in some cases, just seeing the sheer numbers of these spectacular birds is worth the trip.  

The Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in south-central New Mexico is one of the best places to see hundreds of thousands of ducks in winter.  You will find the greatest number of birds at the refuge from November through February, and pre-dawn and the early evening is the time to see ducks en masse coming and going from the water to forage and roost.  There is an auto-driving loop and many trails to hike while viewing thousands of many species of ducks including northern pintails, American Wigeons, Canvasbacks and Hooded Mergansers.

Snow Geese  Photo Credit: Gary Zahm, USFWS

Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge along the coast of New Jersey is a great place to view dabbling ducks this month.  The refuge is a winter retreat for thousands of American Black Ducks and Atlantic Brant.  In fact, forty-seven percent of North America’s black duck population winters in New Jersey!  Who knew?  The wildlife driving tour provides excellent views of Bufflehead, Common Goldeneye, Green-winged Teal and Red-breasted Mergansers.  The back bay salt marshes are always filled with thousands of waterfowl to challenge and brush up your identification skills.

The White River National Wildlife Refuge in Arkansas was established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt for the protection of migrating birds, and not surprisingly harbors excellent numbers of wintering waterfowl. Positioned along the Mississippi Flyway, this refuge holds the largest concentration of wintering  Mallard Ducks.  The beautiful, naturally flooded hardwood forests provide abundant food and habitat for all kinds of waterfowl.  Thousands of Snow Geese can also be found here in the winter.  You may also have excellent views of Gadwalls, Wood Ducks and white-fronted geese.