10 Species of Ducks That Swim Underwater (With Photos)

by Alex Kountry
Updated on

Ducks are birds that like to play and be around water.

They also hunt for food and small animals while they are in the water, but do you know that there are ducks that swim underwater.

Generally they are called diving ducks and they are a category of ducks that usually dive beneath the surface of the water to feed and hunt for food.

They are mainly found in fresh waters, are strong fliers as a result of their wings and are migratory.

In this article, I will be showing you 10 different types of ducks that swim underwater.

1. Long Tailed Duck

Ducks That Swim Underwater

This is usually found in North America and commonly called oldsquaw is a medium sized duck that is known for diving underwater to hunt for food.

Adults have white underpants and the males have a long pointed tail and a dark grey bill crossed by a pink band.

They are usually found in tundra pools, marshes and along the sea coasts which allows them to breed and also to hunt for food.

They build their nest on the ground near water and it is built using vegetation and then lined with down.

They feed on mollusks, crustaceans and small fish.

2. Pink Headed Duck

These are large diving ducks that are usually found around the Gangetic plains of India and the riverine swamps of Myanmar.

One very prominent feature of these birds is the pink head which is very obvious when seen.

The males usually have a pink bill, head and neck while the females have pale pinkish head and neck with a paler bill.

It is known to breed and feed in lowland marshes and pools in tall grass jungles.

The nest is usually built among grass and the eggs, six or seven in a clutch, are very spherical or creamy white.

Related: Here is an article I wrote on how ducks show affection

3.  Marbled Ducks

These are medium sized ducks that are found in southern Europe, Northern Africa and western and central Asia.

The marbled duck is approximately 39 to 42 cm long and the adults are a pale, sandy brown color with a dark eye patch and shaggy head.

The females are usually smaller than the male but otherwise they both look alike with very small differences.

Their preferred breeding habitat is usually shallow fresh, brackish or alkaline waters with densely vegetated shores.

They mostly feed on seeds but will also take a significant amount of small aquatic vertebrates like insect larvae, pupae and crustaceans.

4. Red Crested Pochard

This is a large diving duck with breeding habitats in lowland marshes and lakes in southern Europe and Asia.

The adult male is very obvious with a large orange head, red bill and blavk breast.

The females are usually pale brown, with a darker back and crown and a whitish face.

They are known to feed by diving or dabbing and they like feeding on aquatic plants and animals such as small fish, larvae and pupae.

They usually build nests by the lakeside among vegetation and can lay up to 8 – 12 eggs at a time.

5. The Southern Pochard

This is a species of the duck family that can be found from Columbia, Venezuela, Brazil, Ecuador and Peru.

The Southern Pochard duck has a fragmented range and can be found in shallow fresh waters with submerged vegetation.

These birds are very sociable and gregarious and can be found in groups of up to 5,000 birds at a time.

They are solitary nesters and can build nests out of leaves and stems on the banks of a river surrounded by vegetation.

The females usually lay a clutch of eggs of 6 to 15 eggs at a time.

6. Canvasback Duck

This is a species of diving ducks that are usually found in North America.

They range from 48  to 52cm in length and weigh about 800 to 1600g. The canvasback usually has a distinctive wedge shaped head and a long neck.

The adult male has a black bill, a chestnut red head and neck, a black breast, a grayish back, black rump, and a blackish brown tail.

The adult female (hen) also has a black bill, a light brown head and neck, grading into a darker brown chest and foreback

The breeding habitat of such birds is potholes with their nest in vegetation built from marsh and lines with moss.

7. Redhead Duck

This is a medium sized diving duck of about 37cm in length and 84cm wingspan.

They usually weigh about 2 to 2.5 lbs with the makes weighing slightly more than the females.

They can be easily distinguished from other birds by the unique copper colored head and bright blue bill during breeding season.

Redhead ducks are specially adapted to foraging underwater for food and their nutrients. 

Their legs are placed farther back on the body, which makes walking on land difficult, the webbing on their feet is larger than dabbling ducks and their bills are broader, to facilitate underwater foraging.

They are known to stay in small wetlands where the water is deep enough to provide dense vegetation and there are many small aquatic animals.

8. Ring Necked Ducks

Ring necked ducks are diving ducks from North America commonly found in freshwater ponds and lakes.

They usually measure 39 to 46cm in length, weigh 490 to 900grams and are about 63cm wingspan.

The adult males are usually bigger than the females with two white rings surrounding its gray bill, a shiny black angular head, black back, white line on the wings, a white breast and yellow eyes. 

The adult female has a grayish brown angular head and body with a dark brown back, a dark bill with a more subtle light band than the male, grayish-blue feet and brown eyes with white rings surrounding them

The breeding habitats of ring necked ducks are wooded lakes or ponds and boreal forest territories.

The female lays one egg per day until 8 to 10 eggs are laid. They are incubated 25–29 days and the female may remain with the young until they are able to fly.

9. Hardhead Ducks

Hardhead ducks also known as white eyed ducks are diving ducks that can be commonly found in Australia.

The name hardhead has nothing to do with the density of the bird’s skull but is as a result of the difficulty encountered by early taxidermists in processing the head.

They are usually smaller than most ducks and noticeably more rounded in overall form than most ducks.

Like the other members of the pochard group, hardheads feed by diving deeply, often staying submerged for as long as a minute at a time. 

They slip under the water with barely a ripple, simply lowering their heads and thrusting with their powerful webbed feet. 

They eat a broad range of small aquatic creatures, and supplement this with water weeds.

10. Ferruginous Duck

This is a medium sized diving duck that is commonly found in Euro siberia and the surrounding areas.

The adult male is easily identified with a rich, dark chestnut on the head, breast and flanks.

The ferruginous duck prefers quite shallow freshwater water bodies with rich submerged and floating vegetation with dense stands of emergent vegetation on the margins. 

In some areas it will use saline or brackish pools or wetlands. 

On passage and wintering will also frequent coastal waters, inland seas and large, open lagoons.

These birds feed mainly by diving or dabbling. They eat aquatic plants with some molluscs, aquatic insects and small fish. 

They often feed at night, and will upend (dabble) for food as well as the more characteristic diving

Photo of author

About the author

Alex Kountry

Alex Kountry is the founder of HayFarmGuy and has been a backyard farmer for over 10 years. Since then he has decided to write helpful articles that will help you become a better backyard farmer and know what to do. He also loves to play tennis and read books


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