5 Species of Ducks in Hawaii (Pictures)

Hawaii has a rich and diverse wildlife, including a number of different bird species. Ducks, for instance, are one type of waterbird that you can find in Hawaii. The ducks in Hawaii can be either native species that are seen throughout the year, or migratory species that only visit during certain times of the year.

5 Ducks in Hawaii

There are only a few ducks in Hawaii that are endemic to the islands, but that doesn’t mean they are the only waterfowl you will see. Keep reading to learn about what species of ducks either call Hawaii their home or come to the island for a visit. From the Hawaiian duck to the northern pintail, here are 5 ducks found in the state of Hawaii.

1. Hawaiian Duck

Hawaiian duck swimming
Hawaiian duck swimming

Scientific Name: Anas wyvilliana

The Hawaiian duck, sometimes referred to as koloa, typically has a mottled brown body with a greenish blue speculum and white borders. The males of the species will have a darker-colored head and neck feathers. Both males and females have orange feet and legs.

Hawaiian ducks are only found on the Hawaiian Islands, which means you won’t find this duck species anywhere else in the world. Unfortunately, experts estimate that the population of these waterfowl is only about 2,200 with their numbers expected to keep dwindling thanks to the hybridization of other ducks.

Additionally, Hawaiian ducks keep their nests on the ground, which makes them more vulnerable to predators.

2. Laysan Duck

Laysan duck s in a row
Laysan duck s in a row | image by ericdalecreative via Flickr

Scientific Name: Anas laysanensis

The adult Laysan duck is overall dark brown in color, but does have some white feathers peppered throughout its neck and head area. Each one of its eyes is also lined with a white ring.

One thing that makes this duck species different from most others is that Laysan ducks are nocturnal creatures that are considered more sedentary than other waterfowl. They also don’t produce as many offspring as other duck species, but they do have a longer lifespan.

According to the Hawaii Wildlife Center, the Laysan duck is the rarest duck in the Northern Hemisphere. Additionally, this species has the smallest geographic range. Unfortunately, the Laysan duck has taken a number of hits to its population over the years, including an outbreak of avian botulism.

All these hits have reduced the duck’s population, leaving it at the threat of extinction. Thankfully, steps have been taken to help rebuild the Laysan duck’s population and this waterfowl now exists on three Hawaiian islands.

3. Mallards

Mallard swimming
Mallard swimming | image by Blondinrikard Fröberg via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Anas platyrhynchos

The Mallards do not live in Hawaii full time, but they do visit the islands. A small number of mallards will migrate to Hawaii in the winter. Unfortunately, mallard ducks pose a problem for Hawaii’s native duck species, the Hawaiian duck (Koloa maoli).

Mallards were introduced to the area in the late 1800s. They were introduced from North America for pond beautification, hunting, and even farming.

Mallards started to breed with the Hawaiian duck, producing hybrid offspring. This caused the number of non-hybrid Hawaiian ducks to dwindle, which puts Hawaii’s native duck species in jeopardy of extinction.

4. Fulvous Whistling Duck

Fulvous whistling duck
Fulvous whistling duck | image by David Álvarez López via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Dendrocygna bicolor

The Fulvous whistling duck has a cinnamon brown body, steel gray bill, and a whitish collar. There is a thin, black stripe running down the back of this bird’s neck. The Fulvous whistling duck is a lanky bird that didn’t appear in Hawaii until the 1980s.

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This waterfowl had a small population on the Southeastern Hawaiian Islands until the 1990s, but didn’t become established. However, wandering Fulvous whistling ducks are still seen in Hawaii to this day. Just remember that if you are lucky enough to see this species in Hawaii, that the bird has flown far outside of its normal range.

5. Northern Pintail

Northern pintail swimming
Northern pintail swimming | image by Brendan Lally via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific Name: Anas acuta

Northern pintails are the most common winter migrant duck to the Hawaiian Islands. This means that the Northern Pintail duck is only seen during the winter months when it comes to the islands to get away from the cold. These birds have long necks and slender bodies.

Their tails are long and come to a point. These tails are much longer in males of the species that are breeding. Females and non-breeding males have shorter tails. Males have a black bill, brown head, and white neck and chest.

The white color runs down the back of the duck’s neck in a thin line. Northern pintails feed on the seeds of aquatic plants, snails, aquatic insects, worms, and even crustaceans. They can also consume wheat, corn, rice, barley, and other grains that they come across.