Tule Ponds at Tyson

Ducks that have been observed at Tyson Lagoon include year round residents that breed in the Fremont area, long distance migrants that pass through in spring and fall on their way to and from far northern summer breeding grounds, and winter residents that spend the winter resting and feeding at the Lagoon but breed north of California. 

Dabbling Ducks (Anatinae)

These surface-feeding (“puddle ducks”) have a more slender body, longer neck, and longer legs held more under the body than those of diving ducks.  They swim fairly high with the tail held off the water.  They feed in shallow waters by dabbling and up-ending to reach bottom vegetation with their bill.  When leaving the water they usually take off without a run on the surface.  When foraging on land, they walk with a slight waddle, and may run.  Males often have strongly contrasting patterns in breeding season; females do not.  Most species have an iridescent patch (speculum) on the trailing edge of the wing.  Gadwalls, green-winged teal, northern shovelers and mallards are dabbling ducks that have been observed at Tyson Lagoon.

Anas platyrhynchos

The mallard is our most common duck.  Mallards have a violet or blue wing patch (speculum) bordered with white. The bill is light greenish-yellow in the male and yellow blotched with black in the female.  The hen (female) is mottled brown with a light line above the eye.  In breeding plumage the drake (male) has a bright green head, white color, reddish-brown chest, gray sides, and black all around the base of the tail.

Diving Ducks  (Aythyinae)

Diving ducks have heavier bodies than dabbling ducks.  Their feather colors are black, white, gray, and brown/rust.  Males and females have different plumage. They swim medium to low in the water and commonly dive to the bottom for food, although they may tip-up in shallow water.  Take-off from water requires a rapid patter along the surface.  They walk with a pronounced waddle and do not feed on land or get far away from water.  Ring-necked ducks, scaup, and buffleheads are diving ducks that have been observed at Tyson Lagoon.

Bucephala albeola

The bufflehead is one of the smallest ducks.  The male has white sides and chest and a large white patch around the back of the head.  The female is dark gray above with a small white mark below and behind the eye.

Ruddy Duck
Oxyura jamaicensis

Ruddy ducks are small and chunky.  They have a large head, broad bill, dark feathering with white throat and cheek, and a long erect, rounded tail.  The male has reddish-brown plumage and a bright blue bill in breeding season.  Ruddies are good divers.  They require a long run and fly furiously over the surface of the water before becoming airborne.

American Coot
Fulica americana

Coots (mudhens) behave like ducks and are often confused with them.  However, the American coot is not a duck; it is related to moorhens and rails.  Adult coots are dark slate gray with a white bill and “shield” on the forehead.  Their beaks taper abruptly to a blunt point.  They have a chunky body, greenish-yellow legs, and large toes that are lobed, rather than webbed.  They swim high in the water, often jerking their heads forward and back.  They both tip-up and dive deeply for food.  Take-off from water is by a long or short run.

Tule Pond Home Page