How do you tell what kind of ducks they are?

spectr17

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It's taken many years of watching waterfowl for me to know what kind of duck it is before it gets into gun range. What are you tips on how to identify certain ducks at long range to get ready for  a shot? The way they fly?, formation? flash of a certain color?

Mallards and pintails to me just seem to fly higher and circle down from way up compared to shovelers who never seem to get very high at all. Shovelers rise up just enough to clear the trees or levee and then drop right back down.

I always see Cans in a vee formation and usually hear the wind ripping off their wings as they come screaming in before I first see them. One trip to Barret Lake near San Diego we could hear the wings on the cans and they were clear across the lake. With the wind quiet that day and the canyon wall a great backdrop it made you look up every time.

So how about it all you old crusty veterans, what keys you in on what kind of duck it is?
 

mudroller

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I'd pay $25 bucks for a good poster that would help me id ducks, "I usually go that was a teal" as they buzz by at mach 2.4 or "those were widgeon" as they bust off after swimming in un-noticed by anyone in the blind. Mallards, sprig and geese I got down from watching them fly over at 100 yds+ by the thousands. CWA could make a killing selling those posters, especially if they use high quality photos , not like the crummy one DFG puts out.
 

KID CREOLE

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Little things I try to notice.

Sprigs, long necks, slender gull like wings.
Mallards, big bodies with their butts kinda pointing down when flying.
Gadwall, brown and grey with white patches on the wings.
Widgeon, somewhat like gads but short stubby neck and that way cool whistle thing they do.
Teal, greenwings low and fast a lot of side to side like a dove pattern.
Cinamons, flash of the silvery white from under the wings.
Canvasbacks, look like a 4 lb can of Coors light with a brown head.
Reheads, enough said.
Spoonies, easy to ID, their always pecking at my G&H super mags.
The rest of them I hardly see.
 

mudroller

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Thanks Bob, I ordered 2, 1 for me and 1 for my infamous spoonie-killing brother. I would still like a big poster size one to frame in my office so I could daydream.
 

Whitetail

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Do like my buddy does,when he is unsure all he says is"Did you see the Size of that chicken"*LOL*Actully I do alot of my Id'ing from the way they fly
 

jerry d

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I've been chasing them long enough (almost 40 years) to normally, now I said normally, identify them at quite a distance by observing their silhoutte, wingbeat, speed, formation, ect.

Over the years when I've been in the blind by myself I've made it a practice to many times just sit and observe them without firing a shot. Many times this has taken a lot of will power but I feel it's been worth it in the long run

I don't think there's many things more fascinating than calling in wary birds and talking to them as they circle the blind trying to decide if they want to sit down.

I think mature sprig are the most difficult to bring in and spoonies are the easiest. I've worked sprig for as long as ten minutes and at other times I've waved my hat at spoonies and they couldn't wait to come in.

We have a relatively new hunting partner in our blind that's not very good at identification, everything he see's seems to be mallards, and we sometimes pull the spoonie "greenhead" trick on him.
 

Fubar

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jerry  Everyone knows if you wave your hat at spoonies they come right in because they think you are signaling its ok to land. They dont think any hunter would be standing up waving a hat at them. I usually identify my ducks on the strap. Lets see these two are hen Mallards and these two are hen Pintail..                   Fubar
 

Trapp

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I remember them day, when I identified the duck after my lab retrieved them saying “O” that didn’t look like no Spoonbill (THE SMILEING MALLERD). HA HA HA
 

300BOSS

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How rare is a blue-wing, teal?  I got one last year in Kesterson.  I didn't know it was a blue wing until after the fact.  I had it mounted after all th eattentio it got in the parking lot and at the check station.  Was it worth it?
 

jerry d

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Jesse,

In almost 40 years of duck hunting in Calif. I've never seen a Blue-Winged Teal.

Think they're kinda rare here or maybe I've just been hunting in the wrong place.

Bet it looks good on your wall.

Congrats.....
 

Speckmisser

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I didn't think bluewings were in this flyway?  Shot a bunch of them back east, especially in the early split season.  Pretty birds.
 

Fubar

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Speck  If we had a lot of em around here you might be Bluewingmisser. They are common back East.    Fubar
 

Speckmisser

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Easy now, Fubar.  

It's the big, slow ones I can't hit.  Those little screamers have magnets in their breasts or something, but the geese have flak jackets.  
 

Fubar

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Speck  I know what you mean about geese. I hunt Honkers at Cibola and most of the guys let em come right in with their feet down, Alot of the guys there even let em land in the decoys. They are right in your lap when you shoot . They are tough critters. Sometimes they seem to have flak jackets on.      Fubar
 

Tim P

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I have never shot at one (blue-winged teal) but they get a few a year at mendota and I have a few of them there before the season.
 

spectr17

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I agree with Jerry on the mature sprig being the most wariest. I've had them circle and circle to just get a kink in my neck from craning to watch them.

One time I had a pair of sprig start circling and after about 6 orbits of watching them I looked down and realized I was corkscrewing myself into the mud from turning around. They never did get into gun range, probably just flew off laughing at my predicament.
 

TealMan

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I had never shot a bluewing teal (20 years of hunting) until a few years ago.  I have since shot a dozen or so, but I'm not always sure on the hens.  They are kind of like honkers, as I just aim for the white patch on their head.  Most of my duck identification is done by sound, and the way they look while flying.  
 

Duck Fan

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My son and I have shot blue wing teal at Kern (unit 1A).  Saw one also at Kesterson but missed.  I only know because it landed and gave me a good chance to ID it. As it took off I fired....but, alas, I guess it was too darn close ( ha ha) - dang what a lousy shot that was. A clean "miss"
 

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