American black duck
Anas rubripes
ITIS Species Code:   175068         NatureServ Element Code:   ABNJB10040
NatureServe Global Rank: 
NatureServe State (NC) Rank: 
Federal Status: 
NC State Status: 
Southern Blue Ridge:  n/a Southern Piedmont:  18 South Atl. Coastal Plain:  n/a
Land Unit

US Fish & Wildlife Service
US Forest Service
US National Park Service
US Department of Defense
NC State Parks
NC University System
NC Wildlife Res. Com.
NC Forest Service
NC Div. of Coastal Mgmt.
Local Governments
Non-Governmental Org.
Other Public Lands
Private Lands

GAP Status 1-2
All Protected Lands




% of Dist. on
Prot. Lands

29.0 %
4.5 %
18.4 %
8.0 %
8.9 %
1.6 %
15.5 %
1.1 %
3.8 %
7.1 %
7.1 %
0.4 %
0.1 %

66.0 %
% of Dist. on
All Lands

2.4 %
0.4 %
1.5 %
0.6 %
0.7 %
0.1 %
1.3 %
< 0.1 %
0.3 %
0.2 %
0.6 %
< 0.1 %
91.8 %

5.4 %
Although reported as nesting across the state (Pearson 1959, Potter et al. 1980), it is doubtful that the Black Duck nests in the mountain region (Alsop 1991, Simpson 1992). In the coastal plain, it breeds from Beaufort north (Fussell 1994), and is fairly common on the barrier islands (Fussell and Lyons 1990).

Lives in a variety of habitats near water, especially with emergent vegetation (Ehrlich et al. 1988), such as marshes, bays, estuaries, ponds, rivers, lakes, wooded ponds and swamps (Kaufman 1996). On the coast, often found in impoundments, ponds, and estuaries (Fussell 1994).

Nests on the ground in the vicinity of water, often on banks or islets (Kaufman 1996). The nest is often found in thickets, briars, woodland borders, tall grass, or the marshy borders of ponds or marshes. The nest is placed on dry ground above the water level, (Harrison 1975), among clumps of vegetation or sometimes on top of a stump, on a duck blind, in a tree cavity (Kaufman 1996), or rarely in a tree in an abandoned nest (Ehrlich et al. 1988) or at the base of a tree, and possibly otherwise surrounded by water (Nicholson 1997).


Shallow margins of lakes, streams, bays mud flats, and open waters. Nests in both dry and wet woodlands. Wide variety of wetland habitats in both freshwater and marine situations, in and around marshes, swamps, ponds, lakes, bays, estuaries, and tidal flats. As a result of a study of postfledging habitat use, Frazer et al. (1990) recommended maintaining large (30-50 ha) marshes containing dense emergent vegetation near a complex of diverse wetland types.


Breeding habitat and nest sites very diverse; favors wooded swamps and marshes, brackish or freshwater. In central Ontario, preferred small fertile wetlands with a moderate amount of open water and an irregular shoreline (Merendino and Ankney 1994). Usually nests on ground in concealing vegetation, rarely in abandoned tree nest of other bird species. Significant numbers may return to the natal home

Occupied Landcover Map Units:
Code NameDescription NC Natural Heritage Program Equivalent
3 Tidal Marsh Fresh and brackish tidal marshes, including cord grass, wild rice, sawgrass and needlerush alliances. Brackish Marsh, Interdune pond, Maritime wet grassland
124 Maritime Scrubs and Tidal Shrublands Coastal shrubs including wax-myrtle, swamp rose, alder, yaupon, and greenbriar. Maritime Shrubs, Salt Shrub
372 Interdune Herbaceous Wetlands Dune swales with permanently flooded to intermittently exposed hydrology. Species composition depends on salinity and can include cut grass, spike-rush, mosquito fern, and hornwort. Interdune Pond, Maritime Wet Grasslands
75 Tidal Swamp Forest Swamp tupelo dominated forest with or without black tupelo and/or cypress trees. Restricted to the tidal zones in the coastal plain. May have inclusions of coastal red cedar woodlands. Tidal cypress - gum swamp
121 Maritime Pinelands Loblolly forests and woodlands of the outer coastal plain. Estuarine Fringe Loblolly Pine Forest
17 Maritime Forests and Hammocks Maritime forests and woodlands dominated by live or sand laurel oak. Estuarine Fringe forests dominated by loblolly pine. Coastal Fringe Evergreen Forest, Maritime Deciduous Forest, Maritime Deciduous Forest
126 Interdune Wooded Depression Swamp Includes swamps dominated by sweetbay and swampbay or dogwood dominated forests. Maritime Shrub Swamp, Maritime Swamp Forest
380 Coastal Plain Fresh Water Emergent Emergent vegetation in fresh water seepage bogs, ponds and riverbeds of the coastal plain. Includes alliances dominated by sedges, eelgrass, as well as cane found in unforested cane-brakes. Small Depression Pond, Sandhill Seep, Floodplain Pool, Unforested Floodplain Canebrake, Riverscour Prairies, Vernal Pools
173 Coastal Plain Riverbank Shrubs Shrub dominated riverbanks, commonly dominated by willows and/or alders. Sand and Mud Bar
50 Coastal Plain Mixed Bottomland Forests Includes forests dominated by a variety of hardwood species, including sweetgum, cottonwood, red maple. Coastal Plain Bottomland Hardwood (in part), Coastal Plain Levee Forest
49 Coastal Plain Oak Bottomland Forest Bottomland forests dominated by deciduous oak alliances. Oaks represented can include swamp chestnut, cherrybark, willow, and/or overcup oak. Inclusions of loblolly pine temporarily flooded forests occur in patches. Hydrology is temporarily to seasonally flooded. Coastal Plain Bottomland Hardwoods (in part) blackwater subtype, brownwater subtype
30 Cypress-Gum Floodplain Forests Swamps dominated by black or swamp tupelo with or without Taxodium. Seasonally to semi-permanently flooded hydrology. Cypress-Gum Swamps
78 Pond-Cypress - Gum Swamps, Savannas and Lakeshores Cypress dominated swamps and lakeshores. Can include bays dominated by pond cypress or shorelines of coastal plain lakes with a narrow band of cypress. Non-riverine Swamp Forest, Natural Lakeshores (in part)
385 Oak Bottomland Forest and Swamp Forest The swamp chestnut oak, cherrybark oak, shumard oak and sweetgum alliance is one representative. Other alliances are dominated by water, willow, and overcup oaks. Swamp forests can be dominated by sweetgum, red maple, and black gum being dominant. Loblolly can occur in combination with sweetgum and red maple, or with tulip poplar. Includes saturated and semi- to permanently flooded forests in the mountains. Piedmont/Mountain Bottomland Forest, Piedmont/Mountain Swamp Forest
63 Coastal Plain Mesic Hardwood Forests Beech dominated forests with white oak and northern red oak as possible co-dominants. Dry-mesic to mesic forests on slopes and small stream bottoms in the coastal plain. Mesic Mixed Hardwood Forest, Basic Mesic Forests
238 Piedmont/Mountain Submerged Aquatic Vegetation Seasonally to permanently flooded areas with aquatic vegetation. Waterlily, pondweed, hydrilla smartweed are a few of the species that can occur. Piedmont/Mountain Semipermanent Impoundment (in part)
239 Piedmont/Mountain Emergent Vegetation Emergent vegetation of all wetland hydrologies. Sites would commonly support species such as tussock sedge, rushs, and cattail alliances. Rocky Bar and Shore (in part)
267 Riverbank Shrublands Riverside shrubs with temporarily flooded hydrologies. Found in the both the Mountains and Piedmont. Containing dominants such as smooth alder and a Carolina or black willows. Sand and Mud Bar
269 Floodplain Wet Shrublands Saturated shrublands of the Piedmont, includes buttonbush, swamp-loosestrife, decodon and alders. Piedmont/mountain Semipermanent Impoundment
230 Piedmont Mesic Forest American Beech - Red Oak - White Oak Forests. Mesic Mixed Hardwood
384 Piedmont/Mountain Mixed Bottomland Hardwood Forests Includes temporarily to seasonally forests dominated by hardwood species. Hardwoods include sweetgum, red maple, sycamore which co-occur in a mosaic of bottomland and levee positions. Includes alluvial hardwood forests in the mountains. Hemlock and white pine may occur as inclusions, but are generally mapped separately. Piedmont/Mountain Alluvial Forest, Piedmont/Mountain Levee Forest
205 Agricultural Pasture/Hay and Natural Herbaceous Farm fields used for pasture grass or hay production, as well as old fields dominated by native and exotic grasses. No equivalent
202 Residential Urban Includes vegetation interspersed in residential areas. Includes lawns, mixed species woodlots, and horticultural shrubs. Vegetation accounts for between 20 - 70% of the cover. No equivalent
8 Open water Open water without aquatic vegetation. No equivalent
View Entire Landcover Legend
Additional Spatial Constraints:
Exclude all area outside of known range.
Exclude all land greater than 50 meters from an open water feature.
Exclude all water greater than 200 meters from land.
Exclude salt water habitats.
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Ehrlich, P.R., D.S. Dobkin, and D. Wheye. 1992. Birds in jeopardy:the imperiled and extinct birds of the United States and Canada, including Hawaii and Puerto Rico. Stanford University Press, Stanford, California. 259 pp.

Simpson MB Jr. 1992. Birds of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Chapel Hill and London: University of North Carolina Press.

Fussell, J. III and M. Lyons. 1990. Birds of the Outer Banks [pamphlet]. Eastern National Parks and Monument Association Coastal Wildlife Refuge Society.

Merendino, M. T., and C. D. Ankney. 1994. Habitat use by mallards and American black ducks breeding in central Ontario. Condor 96:411-421.

Fussell, J.O. III. 1994. A birderís guide to coastal North Carolina. Chapel Hill and London: The University of North Carolina Press.

Kaufman K. 1996. Lives of North American Birds. Boston, New York: Houghton Mifflin Company.

Ankney, C. D., D. G. Dennis, and R. C. Bailey. 1989. Increasing mallards, decreasing American black ducks--no evidence for cause and effect:a reply. J. Wildl. Manage. 53:1072-1075.

Nicholson CP. 1997. Atlas of the breeding birds of Tennessee. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press.

Conroy, M. J., et al. 1989. Increasing mallards, decreasing American black ducks--no evidence for cause and effect:a comment. J. Wildl. Manage. 53:1065-1071.

Rusch, D. R., et al. 1990. Population ecology and harvest of the American black duck:a review. Wildl. Soc. Bull. 17:379-406.

Avise, J. C., C. D. Ankney, and W. S. Nelson. 1991. Mitochondrial gene trees and the evolutionary relationship of mallard and black ducks. Evolution 44:1109-1119.

Grandy, J.W. 1983. The North American black duck (ANAS RUBRIPES):a case study of 28 years of failure in American wildlife management. Supplement to Int. J. Study Anim. Prob. 4(4):1-35.

Pearson, T.G. 1959. Birds of North Carolina. Raleigh, NC: Bynum Printing Company.

Frazer, C., J. R. Longcore, and D. G. McAuley. 1990. Habitat use by postfledging American black ducks in Maine and New Brunswick. J. Wildl. Manage. 54:451-459.

Frazer, C., J. R. Longcore, and D. G. McAuley. 1990. Home range and movements of postfledging American black ducks in eastern Maine. Can. J. Zool. 68:1288-1291.

Geis, A. D., R. I. smith, and J. P. Rogers. 1971. Black duck distribution, harvest characteristics, and survival. U.S. Fish and Wildl. Serv. Spec. Sci. Rep. Wildlife No. 139. 240 pp.

Harrison, H.H. 1975. A field guide to bird's nests in the U.S. east of the Mississippi River. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, Massachusetts. 257 p.

Palmer, R. S., editor. 1976. Handbook of North American birds. Vol. 2. Waterfowl (first part). Whistling ducks, swans, geese, sheld-ducks, dabbling ducks. Yale Univ. Press, New Haven. 521 pp.

Potter, E. F., J. F. Parnell, and R. P. Teulings. 1980. Birds of the Carolinas. Univ. North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill. 408 pp.

Terres, J.K. 1980. The Audubon Society encyclopedia of North American birds. Alfred A. Knopf, New York.

Ankney, C. D., et al. 1986. Low genetic variation between black ducks and mallards. Auk 103:701-709.

American Ornithologists' Union (AOU), Committee on Classification and Nomenclature. 1983. Check-list of North American Birds. Sixth Edition. American Ornithologists' Union, Allen Press, Inc., Lawrence, Kansas.

Ankney, C. D., D. G. Dennis, and R. C. Bailey. 1987. Increasing mallards, decreasing American black ducks:coincidence or cause and effect? J. Wildl. Manage. 51:.

Ehrlich, P.R., D.S. Dobkin, and D. Wheye. 1988. The birder's handbook:a field guide to the natural history of North American birds. Simon and Shuster, Inc., New York. xxx + 785 pp.

Root, T. 1988. Atlas of wintering North American birds:An analysis of Christmas Bird Count data. University of Chicago Press. 336 pp.

Alsop FJ III. 1991. Birds of the Smokies. Gatlinburg: Great Smoky Mountains Natural History Association.

Krementz, D. G., et al. 1991. Historical changes in laying date, clutch size, and nest success of American black ducks. J. Wildl. Manage. 55:462-466.

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Nichols, J. D. 1991. Science, population ecology, and the management of the American black duck. J. Wildl. Manage. 55:790-799.

10 March 2005
This data was compiled and/or developed by the North Carolina GAP Analysis Project.

For more information please contact them at:
NC-GAP Analysis Project
Dept. of Zoology, NCSU
Campus Box 7617
Raleigh, NC 27695-7617
(919) 513-2853