15 Ducks With White Stripe On Their Head (ID Guide)

Have you spotted some ducks with white stripes on their head and want to find out who they are?

Well, this list gives you all the ducks with white markings on their heads that live in the United States and Canada.

Some of the ducks are females and look different than the males, but you can see photos and find out some information about them, such as what regions they are in.

You can also find out more about ducks and their calls or check out which ducks are in your state or province from the main menu.

15 Ducks With White Stripe On Head

1. Blue-winged Teal

Blue-winged Teal

Blue-winged teals are small ducks with bluish-gray heads with a white stripe in front of their eyes in the males.

Females have the same scaly, brown pattern on their bodies, but they have no distinctive white markings on their faces.

  • Spatula discors
  • Length: 15 – 17 in (38 – 43 cm)
  • Weight: 19.18 oz (544 g)
  • Wingspan: 23 -31 in (58 – 79 cm)

Blue-winged Teals breed in the US and Canada before migrating to Florida, the Gulf Coast, southern West Coast, Mexico, Central and northern South America, and the Caribbean.

You can find Blue-winged Teals on shorelines with calm or sluggish water, so lakes and ponds with protruding trees and rocks are perfect. They also live around shallow water sources with abundant vegetation, like marshes and swamps. During the breeding season, you’ll find them in northern prairies and parklands.

Fun Fact: Because of their long, over-ocean migration patterns, Blue-winged Teals have the highest mortality rate among dabbling ducks.

2. Northern Pintail

Northern Pintail

Northern Pintails are ducks known for their long pointy tails. Males have a beautiful brown head, with a contrasting white vertical stripe down their neck.

Females are brown with intricate scaled patterns on their bodies.

  • Anas acuta
  • Length: 20 – 26 in (51 – 66 cm)
  • Weight: 36.33 oz (1030 g)
  • Wingspan: 29 – 35 in (74 – 89 cm)

Northern Pintails breed in Canada, Alaska, and the Midwest before migrating to southern and coastal US states.

You can find Northern Pintails living with other duck species in open wetlands, marshes, prairies, and even in agricultural fields. They forage on the edges of lakes and ponds but are known to dabble in open water with other ducks. During winter, they will migrate to coastal lagoons, sheltered estuaries, and brackish marshes. 

Fun Fact: Because Northern Pintails are agile and speedy birds, they are often hunted as a challenge in game shooting.

3. Mandarin Duck

Mandarin Duck
Mandarin duck female

Male Mandarin Ducks are striking and extremely colorful and may be the reason why they’re often bred in captivity. They are a patchwork of color and have a large white stripe on their heads from their eyes down into the crest.

Female Mandarin Ducks are pretty subdued compared to the males. Their heads are brownish-gray with subtle white stripes.

  • Aix galericulata
  • Length:16 – 19 in (41 – 49 cm) 
  • Weight: 15 – 24 oz (430 – 690 g)
  • Wingspan: 26 – 30 in (65 – 75 cm)

Mandarin Ducks are originally from East Asia but have found their way to the United States after escaping captivity and then reproducing in the wild.

You can find Mandarin Ducks in dense woodland and forest edges near water when in their native habitat. In other areas, they are seen in marshes, coastal lagoons, lake edges, water meadows, and cultivated, wooded areas.

Fun Fact: In China, Mandarin Ducks are regarded as signs of fidelity and so are given as gifts at weddings. However, they are not monogamous and form new pairs each year!

4. Garganey


Garganeys are small dabbling ducks. The males are interestingly multi-patterned. The top of their head has a black line running to their neck, while a striking white stripe above the top of their eye weaves its way down to their back.

Female Garganeys have different feather patterns. They have no vertical stripe from the eye. They are mostly dark brown all over, with a scaly pattern on their back, chest, and belly.

  • Spatula querquedula
  • Length: 14 – 16 in (36 – 41 cm)
  • Weight: 18.34 oz (520 g)
  • Wingspan: 23 – 25 in (58 – 64 cm)

Garganeys usually breed in Eurasia and winter in Africa and southern Asia, but some wander into Alaska.

You can find Garganeys around shallow freshwater lakes, reedy wetlands, and marshes with abundant vegetation on the edges. 

Garganeys mostly feed on aquatic plants and insects. With their spatula-like bill, they are able to filter the water that passes through their bill to get at their food. 

5. White-cheeked Pintail

White-cheeked pintail (Anas bahamensis)

The White-cheeked Pintail is a dabbling duck that also goes by the name Bahama Pintail or summer duck. 

White-cheeked Pintails are beautiful ducks. Both sexes look the same. They both have brown, streaked foreheads and napes. They have a white patch on their cheek extending to their throat.

Their bills are blue with a distinct red spot at the base. The rest of their bodies are covered with black and brown spots. 

  • Anas Bahamensis
  • Length: 18 – 20 in (46 – 51 cm)
  • Weight: 19.2 oz (544 g)
  • Wingspan: 26 – 31 in (66 – 79 cm)

White-cheeked Pintails are usually found in the Caribbean and South America, but they also are found in southeastern US states.

You can find White-cheeked Pintails in saltwater habitats, like lagoons, rocky or sandy seashores, and mangroves. They may also be found near rivers, lakes, and ponds. On rare occasions, they may be found in brackish water and shallow marshes.

White-cheeked Pintails dabble in water for food. They usually eat seeds, algae, aquatic plants, particularly widgeon plants, and small invertebrates.

6. Baikal Teal

Baikal teal

Baikal Teals are also called bimaculate ducks or squawk ducks. Male Baikal Teals are uniquely patterned ducks which makes it easy to recognize them. They have white, green, pale brown, and black-colored heads with a striking pattern.

  • Anas formosa
  • Length: 15 – 17 in (38-43 cm) 
  • Weight: 15.4 oz (436 g)
  • Wingspan: 20 – 25 in (51 – 64 cm)

Baikal Teals usually breed in eastern Siberia and winter in Asia, but they wander into the United States and Canada.

You can find Baikal Teals near swampy, tundra areas during the breeding season. They spend winter in freshwater areas like lakes, rivers, and reservoirs. They also favor farmlands where they feed at night. 

Fun Fact: Baikal Teals used to be classified as “Vulnerable” due to hunting before 2011, but their numbers are now recovering.

7. Bufflehead

Bufflehead Male
Bufflehead Female

Buffleheads are small birds with bulbous heads, hence their name, “bullheaded,” from ancient Greek. Male Buffleheads are easily recognizable because of the huge white patch behind their eyes.

Female Buffleheads look nothing like the males, except for the bulbous head. They have dark brown or black heads with a white patch below the eye.

  • Bucephala albeola
  • Length: 13 – 16 in (33 – 41 cm)
  • Weight: 21.16 oz (600 g)
  • Wingspan: 20 – 24 in (51-61 cm)

Buffleheads breed mainly in Canada before migrating to the US, northern Mexico, and Canada’s Pacific coast. They can be seen during migration in the Midwest and the Appellations.

You can find Buffleheads in small lakes and ponds with nearby poplar and aspen forests during the breeding season. In the winter, they move to protected coastal waters or shallow bays and inlets. 

Fun Fact: Buffleheads are monogamous ducks and may remain with their chosen mate for several years.

8. Ruddy Duck

Ruddy Duck Male
Ruddy Duck Female

Male Ruddy Ducks certainly live up to their name. During the breeding season, Male Ruddy Ducks are bright reddish-brown compared to their dull, grayish coloring when non-breeding. They have black caps on their heads that extend down the back of their necks, large white cheek patches, and bright blue bills.

Females have dark brown caps and similar but grayish-white cheek patches and stripe.

  • Oxyura jamaicensis
  • Length: 14 – 16 in (35.56 – 40.64 cm)
  • Weight: 28.04 oz (795 g)
  • Wingspan: 21 – 24 in (53 – 61 cm)

Ruddy Ducks breed in western US states and western Canada before migrating to southern US states and the east and west coasts of the US and also Mexico. Some birds remain all year in western Mexico.

You can find Ruddy Ducks in freshwater marshes, lakes, and ponds with marshy borders and portions of open water during the breeding season. In winter, Ruddy Ducks prefer shallow, saltwater coastal bays and estuaries. If there are any ice-free lakes and ponds, Ruddy Ducks will most likely stay there as well. 

Fun Fact: In Europe, Ruddy Ducks are included in the list of Invasive Alien Species of Union Concern since 2016. This means that the species cannot be imported, bred, transported, commercialized, or intentionally released into the environment in the whole of the European Union.

9. Masked Duck – Female

Masked Duck
Credit: By Félix Uribe, CC BY-SA 2.0

Masked Ducks are aptly named for Males have an obvious black face mask, bright blue bills, and russet bodies with black streaks on the back and sides. 

Female Masked Ducks don’t have an obvious mask, but they do have a black cap and two horizontal black and white stripes across their face.

  • Nomonyx dominicus
  • Length: 13 in (33 cm)
  • Weight: 12.8 oz (363 g)
  • Wingspan: 17 in (43 cm)

You can find Masked Ducks in freshwater marshy ponds surrounded by lots of trees for cover. They are also seen in mangrove swamps, rice fields or plantations, and lagoons. 

Fun Fact: Masked Ducks swim very low in the water, with only their head and their neck showing above the water.

10. Hooded Merganser

Hooded Merganser

Male Hooded Mergansers are striking ducks because of the crests on their head that they can raise or lower, which then changes the shape of their head and the pattern of the crest. When open, the crests are huge white patches, but when closed, they are a thick white stripe. 

Females have the same crest, but theirs is reddish-brown. Their bodies are brownish-gray all over, lighter on the bottom and darker on top.

  • Lophodytes cucullatus
  • Length: 16 – 19 in (41 – 48 cm)
  • Weight: 32.09 oz (909 g)
  • Wingspan: 24 – 26 in (61 – 66 cm)

Hooded Mergansers live in eastern US states all year, but those in eastern Canada migrate for winter. They also spend all year in southwestern Canada. They can be spotted during migration in the Midwest and in winter in southern US states and the West Coast.

You can find Hooded Mergansers in freshwater lakes, ponds, and slow-moving rivers. They prefer to breed in small, forested ponds and estuaries with lots of aquatic vegetation. During migration, they visit a wide range of habitats, like open water, coastal bays, and tidal creeks. In winter, they are found in brackish swamps, saltwater bays, and inlets.

Fun Fact: Hooded Mergansers are able to see underwater, which helps them when they forage for food.

11. Common Merganser – Female

Common Merganser male
Ruddy Duck Female

Male Common Mergansers are simple-patterned birds but striking nonetheless. They have black heads with a glossy green sheen, dark eyes, bright-red, long, serrated bills, white bodies, and black backs. While they do have a crest, it’s not often visible. 

Females have a more prominent reddish-brown crest. They have the same red, serrated bill as the males. They also have a white chin patch and white stripe, and their breast and bellies are white, their backs are gray. Juveniles resemble females. 

  • Mergus merganser
  • Length: 22 – 27 in (56 – 69 cm)
  • Weight: 60.8 oz (1723 g)
  • Wingspan: 31 – 37 in (79 – 94 cm)

Common Mergansers breed in Canada and migrate to the US. Some remain all year in northeastern and northwestern US states.

You can find Common Mergansers in freshwater lakes and ponds. They are also found in small rivers and shallow shorelines and even sitting on rocks in the middle of a stream. While they prefer freshwater habitats, they sometimes visit saltwater regions too, like coastal estuaries and harbors.

Fun Fact: Common Mergansers are also called “sawbills,” “fish ducks,” or “goosanders.”

12. Common Goldeneye

Common Goldeneye Male
Common Goldeneye Female

Common Goldeneye males have green heads that are iridescent and can look almost black. They have a white spot under their yellow eyes. They have white bodies and sides and black backs.

Female Common Goldeneyes are grayish-brown with brown heads. Both males and females have black bills, but females have a yellow tip.

  • Bucephala clangula
  • Length: 15.8 – 20.1 in (40 – 51 cm)
  • Weight: 21.2 – 45.9 oz (600 – 1300 g)
  • Wingspan: 30.3 – 32.7 in (77 – 83 cm)

Common Goldeneyes breed in Canada and Alaska in summer and migrate late to the lower 48 for winter.

You can find Common Goldeneyes in boreal forest lakes during the breeding season and in coastal areas in winter. Common Goldeneyes are diving ducks that feed on crabs, shrimp, crayfish, fish, fish eggs, and insects.

Fun Fact: Common Goldeneyes can fly at speeds of over 40 miles per hour.

13. Surf Scoter

Surf Scoter Male
Surf Scoter Female

Male Surf Scoters are medium-sized birds that are sometimes called “old skunk-head coot” because of the distinct white patches on their forehead and nape that stand out against their black, velvety feathers.

Female Surf Scoters are mostly dark gray, but they have the white patch at the base of their bill and near the back of their eyes. They have the same bill as the male, except that theirs is smaller and dark gray.

  • Melanitta perspicillata
  • Length: 17 – 21 in (43 – 53 cm)
  • Weight: 35.27 oz (1000 g)
  • Wingspan: 30 – 36 in (76 – 91 cm)

Surf Scoters breed in northern Canada and Alaska before migrating to the US coasts and Canadian coast.

You can find Surf Scoters in forests near freshwater lakes during the breeding season. During their molting season, they prefer shallow bays, inlets, and estuaries, places that have a good source of food and lesser threats of predation. But, they are most likely on the ocean during winter. 

Fun Fact: Gulls often try to steal the prey that Surf Scoters catch from diving. That’s why flocks frequently make synchronized dives and surfacing to make it difficult for other birds to steal from them. 

14. Harlequin Duck

Harlequin Duck

Harlequin Ducks are small, extremely striking sea ducks. They are instantly recognizable because of their unique multi-color and multi-patterned features. Breeding males are more colorful than females. 

They have a slate blue color on their head, neck, and body and reddish sides and crowns. Black bordered white stripes line their chest, neck, and head, and a white dot behind their eyes. They also have white markings on their back.

Non-breeding males have brown bodies but the facial markings of breeding males.

Females are generally brown all over with three recognizable white markings on their heads – a small patch on top of the eye, another small patch in front of their bill, and a small dot behind the eye.

  • Histrionicus histrionicus
  • Length: 15 – 21 in (38 – 53 cm)
  • Weight: 24 oz (680 g)
  • Wingspan: 26 – 28 in (66 – 71 cm)

Harlequin Ducks breed in eastern and western Canada near the coasts and Alaska before migrating short distances to the Canadian coasts and the coasts of northeastern US states.

You can find Harlequin Ducks in fast-moving mountain streams and rivers and pounding surf and white water during the summer. In winter, you can find them on rocky, wave-lashed coasts, wherever there are turbulent waters. 

Fun Fact: Harlequin ducks are sometimes called the “Sea Mouse” because of their mouse-like squeaks. They are also sometimes referred to as “painted ducks” because of their attractive colors.

15. Barrow’s Goldeneye

Barrow's Goldeneye

Barrow’s Goldeneyes are medium-sized ducks that are commonly mistaken for Common Goldeneyes because they have very similar features. Male Barrow’s Goldeneyes have black heads with a glossy purplish sheen. They have a white crescent-like patch behind their black bill.

They have golden yellow eyes and white chests and bellies. Their top half is black with distinct white shoulder bars. 

Female Barrow’s Goldeneyes have gray bodies, a white collar around their necks, dark brown heads, yellow-orange bills, and the typical golden yellow eyes. They also have white wing patches like the males.

Juveniles are similar to females, except they have a faint white crescent mark of the adult males. 

  • Bucephala islandica
  • Length: 16 – 20 in (41 – 51 cm)
  • Weight: 38.4 oz (1088 g)
  • Wingspan: 30 – 32 in (76 – 81 cm)

Barrow’s Goldeneye breed in western Canada, Alaska, and a few areas of eastern Canada near the coast before migrating to northwestern US states and the west coast of Canada.

You can find Barrow’s Goldeneyes in small mountain lakes and small ponds with nearby mature trees with nesting cavities. During migration, they stop at estuaries, bays, and inlets. In winter, you’ll find them along rocky ocean coasts or inland lakes. 

Fun Fact: In Iceland, around Lake My’vatn, local residents always have nest boxes around their homes and barns for Barrow’s Goldeneyes. It has been a long-standing tradition for the people in this area to host these ducks.