Birds of North Carolina:
their Distribution and Abundance
Mottled Duck - Anas fulvigula
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General Comments This is the only dabbling duck (excluding Wood Duck) that regularly nests as a natural population in Florida. In recent years, Mottled Ducks have been introduced into coastal South Carolina, for hunting purposes. This SC population has been increasing, and individuals from either that population or from the native Florida/Gulf Coast population have turned up in North Carolina since 2005. As both male and female Mottleds look intermediate in plumage between female Mallard and American Black Duck, and as these latter two species often hybridize, as do Mallard and Mottled Duck, identification of Mottled Duck can be quite a challenge. And, there is no assurance that a Mottled Duck in NC is one from a "countable" population (though the coastal SC population has been established for several decades and is considered "countable" now by that state). Mottled Ducks are birds of fresh to slightly brackish marshes, impoundments, ponds, and smaller lakes, including rice plantations; they tend to stay fairly close to shorelines and marshy cover.
Breeding Status Nonbreeder
NC BRC List Definitive
State Status
U.S. Status
State Rank SZ
Global Rank G4
Coastal Plain A recent visitor, currently rare but records greatly increasing, to the southern half of the coast. Records are scattered over most of the year, essentially from all four seasons. The first two documented records with photographs were: two at Camp Lejeune (Onslow) on 14 May 2005* [Chat 70:8 link], and two at Twin Lakes in Sunset Beach (Brunswick), 10 Oct into Dec 2007* [Chat 72:23 link], [Chat 72:53 link]. As of 2023, there are at least 24 reports from the southern coastal counties, most likely correct, though the majority of these have not been reviewed by the NC BRC. The farthest north and "inland" in the province is a female seen at Mattamuskeet NWR (Hyde,), 23 Jun 2014. There are no farther inland records, at least accepted, for the province. Though photographs are not essential for acceptance, the difficulty in convincing a records committee with only a written description that a bird is a Mottled Duck and not a hybrid, a female Mallard, or an American Black Duck, is quite apparent.
Piedmont One male was seen by multiple observers and photographed at Riverbend Park (Catawba), 24 Jul - 5 Aug, 2011* [Chat 75:153 link].
Mountains No records.
Finding Tips Your best bet is to look at ponds at Twin Lakes in summer, fall, and winter. The large pond by the Fort Fisher Aquarium has hosted the species on several occasions. Any other ponds and impoundments in the Wilmington area are also worth checking
Attribution LeGrand[2023-08-09], LeGrand[2023-03-01], LeGrand[2020-08-03]
NC Map
Map depicts all counties with a report (transient or resident) for the species.
Click on county for list of all known species.