Birds of North Carolina:
their Distribution and Abundance
American Black Duck - Anas rubripes
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General Comments The American Black Duck is one of the few waterfowl species that breeds in the state. Unfortunately, breeding populations, as well as wintering ones, have been declining over the past 30 years, in part due to an increase in feral Mallard populations squeezing out American Black Ducks from their preferred habitats, and also due to some loss of its coastal marsh habitat. This species breeds mainly in brackish marshes, but also uses fresh marshes, in the coastal area. It winters both in fresh and slightly brackish water, and thus has a wider range of habitats than for most other puddle duck species. Also, they can be found in wooded swamps, as well as very open water such as lakes, impoundments, and sounds. Black Ducks are more wary than most ducks, flushing quite readily, and thus they occur less often at smaller ponds than do most other ducks.
Breeding Status Breeder
NC BRC List Definitive
State Status
U.S. Status
State Rank S3B,S4N
Global Rank G5
Coastal Plain Fairly common to mostly now uncommon (and declining) breeding summer resident, in the Tidewater and northern coast regions, most frequent in refuges. Apparently does not nest south of Carteret. Common (but declining) winter resident, at least locally, in the Tidewater and northern coastal areas, south to Carteret. Farther south, and inland, it is an uncommon winter resident, though it can be locally numerous along the Roanoke River. Average dates for wintering birds, late Sep to late Mar. Peak counts:
Piedmont Generally an uncommon winter resident, though can be locally fairly common; declining in numbers in recent decades. Early Oct to early Apr. Peak counts: 2,000+, Pee Dee NWR, 2001 (undated).
Mountains Rare to locally uncommon winter resident/visitor. Most frequent at low elevations, especially in Buncombe and Henderson. Early Oct to late Mar. Peak counts:
Finding Tips As with most waterfowl species, the Black Duck is readily found on national wildlife refuges such as Mattamuskeet and Pea Island, especially in fall and winter. Even so, it is one of the less numerous puddle ducks on the refuges. Unlike most other ducks, modest numbers remain to breed in coastal marshes, both in tidal marshes and in fresh marshes at impoundments.
Attribution LeGrand[2023-03-01], LeGrand[2019-07-31], LeGrand[2011-12-31]
NC Map
Map depicts all counties with a report (transient or resident) for the species.
Click on county for list of all known species.
NC Breeding Season Map
Map depicts assumed breeding season abundance for the species.