Do you want to learn about the types of ducks found in Kosovo?
Well, you’ve come to the right place. As you will see, there are all kinds of colorful, beautiful, and odd-looking ducks here!
In this article, you will find descriptions, photos, and RANGE MAPS for each species. I’ve also included some fun facts about these incredible water birds. 🙂
6 types of ducks in Kosovo!
- Anas platyrhynchos
- Males have a bright green head, thin white collar, dark reddish-brown chest, yellow bill, and a black rump with a white-tipped tail.
- Females are mottled brown with orange and brown bills.
- Both sexes have purple-blue secondary feathers on their wings, most visible when standing or flying.
My guess is that almost everyone is familiar with the Mallard. These ducks are the most common species in Kosovo!
Mallards are extremely comfortable around people, which is why these adaptable ducks are widespread. They are found in virtually any wetland habitat, regardless of location.
Mallards readily accept artificial structures built for them by humans. If you have a nice pond or a marsh, feel free to put up a homemade nesting area to enjoy some adorable ducklings walking around your property! Make sure you put up predator guards so predators can’t get to the eggs.
When you think of a duck quacking, it is almost inevitably a female Mallard. If there is a better duck sound, we haven’t heard it! Interestingly, males do not quack like females but, instead, make a raspy call.
#2. Northern Shoveler
- Spatula clypeata
- Males have reddish-brown flanks, green heads, a white chest, black backs, and yellow eyes.
- Females are brown, and sometimes you can see a bluish shoulder patch.
- Both sexes have distinctive bills, which are large and wide!
If you only glance at the green head, casual European observers might accidentally think these ducks are Mallards. But one look up close, and you should notice the ENORMOUS spoon-shaped bill, which is how Northern Shovelers got their name.
They use their large bill to shovel and sift through mud and sand to find tasty tidbits like crustaceans, mollusks, and buried aquatic insects. Interestingly, their bill has over 100 tiny projections on the edges called lamellae that help filter out the food they want to eat. An interesting behavior observed with Northern Shovelers is their ability to “team up” to find food. Flocks of them will sometimes swim in circles together to help stir up food!
Males make a guttural “took-took” sound during courtship, when alarmed, and in flight. Females make a nasally-sounding quack.
#3. Mandarin Duck
- Aix galericulata
- Males have a red bill, blue-green feathers flanked by white on the head, and reddish feathers on the neck that fan out like a beard. In addition, they have purple chests and brown “sails” that stick out from their wings.
- Females are mottled gray-brown with a small patch of blue or purple feathers behind the wings.
The Mandarin Duck is native to East Asia. However, this duck took hold in Kosovo as escaped pets grew into feral colonies in the wild. Now, there are various established populations of this species.
These adaptable birds change their diet depending on the season, eating what’s most readily available. For example, in the spring and summer, they concentrate on eating insects and fish, and some aquatic plants. Then, they switch to foraging for seeds and acorns in the fall and winter. That’s the best way to ensure they always have something to eat!
Male Mandarin Ducks have unusual wing feathers that stick up and look like boat sails as they float on the water. Combined with their brilliant colors, this species is made to stand out in a crowd.
However, even with their bright coloring and unusual shape, it can be hard to spot a Mandarin Duck. These waterfowl will almost always hide from humans unless they’ve become tame. Populations in parks and other public areas may be less skittish than those in unpopulated areas.
#4. Common Shelduck
- Tadorna tadorna
- Males’ bodies are a mix of black, white, and cinnamon. Their heads are black, and their bills are red, with a large knob extending over the forehead.
- Females have similar coloring as males, though less bold. They lack the knob over the forehead.
Look for these ducks in open, unforested areas near lakes and rivers in Kosovo. During molting, you can spot groups of up to 100,000 Common Shelducks together in salt marshes! It’s quite a party when these noisy ducks get together.
In addition to remaining in large groups, this duck has an ingenious way of protecting its young from predators. If they sense a threat, the babies will dive under the water’s surface while the parents fly off, acting as a decoy. This lures the predator away while the parents circle and return to their chicks.
They have a loud, rattling call that raises and lowers in pitch and speed.
#5. Muscovy Duck
- Cairina moschata
- Both sexes are black and white, but the pattern of color is highly variable. Adults have bare skin on their faces, which looks like a pink mask. Their bills can be yellow, pink, black, or a combination of these colors.
- Males’ black feathers are iridescent, giving off a greenish sheen in the sunlight.
- Females lack the green tint and are usually more drab looking.
Identifying the Muscovy Duck can be challenging because this domesticated breed has many color variations. The easiest way to tell if you’ve seen this species is by its size since it’s larger than other ducks in Kosovo.
Muscovy Ducks are native to South America, where they’ve been domesticated since the pre-Columbian era by Native Americans. They are bred primarily as a food source. They were originally brought to Kosovo as farming stock, but some Muscovy Ducks escaped and established feral colonies in the wild. Interestingly, this breed is the ONLY domesticated duck that isn’t a descendant of the Mallard!
Today, there are feral populations of Muscovy Ducks found all over the world. In combination with wild subspecies, it’s one of the most widespread ducks. Their tolerance for cold weather and human presence makes them the perfect species for population growth, even outside their natural habitat. Look for Muscovy Ducks alongside lakes, rivers, and ponds in populated areas.
- Mergellus albellus
- Males are white overall with irregular black lines on the neck and body. In addition, they have a black patch over the eye and a black bill.
- Females are gray overall with white on the throat and a reddish-chestnut cap.
Many people describe the male Smew as having a “cracked ice” or “panda” appearance, and these are both perfect descriptions. The black eye rings on the pure white face of this duck give it a distinctly panda-like look. And the distinctive lines on its body do look like cracks in an iceberg!
Females look very different but no less distinctive. Their gray bodies contrast sharply with their reddish-brown heads, leading to their nickname of “redheaded Smew.”
This species breeds in the taiga, or boreal forests. These “snow forests,” as they are sometimes called, are filled with densely packed evergreen trees like pine and spruce. Smews rely on the trees for breeding locations since they use knot holes instead of nests. They eat fish from inland lakes and rivers and never stray too far from these water sources.
Smews are shy and easily disturbed, so if you find one in the wild, be extra cautious. You’ll have to remain still and quiet to get a good look!
Do you need more help identifying ducks in Europe?
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Which of these ducks in Kosovo have you seen before?
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