Birds are some of the most interesting animals to me. Apparently, I’m not alone based on the skyrocketing interest in keeping chickens and ducks, and also in birdwatching generally.
Ducks in particular tend to be beautiful creatures, very colorful and certainly a lot of fun to look at.
But we also see trends concerning their plumage, particularly a tendency towards black and white coloration or large patches of black and white.
To help give you ideas for the next addition to your flock or something to look for the next time your bird watching by the lake, I’m bringing you 22 black and white duck breeds to know.
Pure Black and White Ducks
Ducks in this category are truly black and white all over, or else only have tiny traces of other colors on their feathers.
1. Red-Breasted Merganser
Males and females of this species are both gorgeous, and both have distinctive, barred black and white coloration.
Females have black and white primary feathers at the end of their wings that set off their speckled tan or cinnamon-colored bodies.
Males have significantly more black and white, extending down their hackles through the length of their wings.
These ducks breed in Canada and then migrate south where they typically hang out along the coasts of the United States. There are especially common in and around swamps and other saltwater areas.
2. Hooded Merganser
The Hooded Merganser, as its name suggests, has a large but fine crest atop its head that makes the head of these ducks look out of proportion and strangely shaped, almost like they are wearing a cowl.
Nonetheless, they are beautiful birds, and males have luminescent white bodies with black heads, black earlobes and two vertical bars of black on either side of the breast, making it look a little like they’re wearing a white shirt with black suspenders.
Females lack this coloration, and are gray with red-brown heads.
These ducks are notable for being especially suited to life on the water, as they are adept divers and very fast swimmers, but they tend to be awkward and clumsy on land.
One of the strangest ducks on our list, these are known for two things: their general avoidance of swimming since, thanks to a nearly vestigial preen gland, they’re not as waterproof as most ducks, and the large red growths that surround their eyes near the base of their bills.
Also, these ducks don’t quack!
Large, heavily built and looking much of the time more like a goose than a true duck, Muscovies are a domestic species that comes in various colors, but for our purposes we are concerned with the half-black and half-white piebald variation.
Although somewhat intimidating, these ducks tend to be good-natured and easy to handle.
A very strong contender for the most beautiful duck that has or will ever live, the Smew is a duck found throughout Asia but one that’s occasionally known to go off course and wind up somewhere in North America.
These ducks are voracious fish eaters which means they are commonly found, when encountered, in slow-moving rivers that are rich with fish.
The males of this species have the most amazing if sparse coloration: white all over, with delicate, raised feathers on their heads, black patches over the eyes, a small black patch on the back and thin, gently curved veins or stripes of black around the body. They look like a painting come to life.
Not to be confused with the small and yappy dog breed, the Pomeranian duck is a hefty but medium-sized duck that is known for its jet-black feet, slender neck and head, and murky feathers.
These ducks look very much like stormy weather: consisting of gray, black, white, and sometimes very dark brown on the underside you’d be forgiven for thinking that a storm is rolling in if you see a flock of these ducks!
Yes, there is a breed of duck called the Magpie and no, it should not be confused with the Corvid of the same name.
This is a domesticated breed that is incapable, or very nearly incapable of flight, making them a good choice for people who don’t want to struggle to contain them.
These ducks tend to be white all over with large black spots and patches along the back, top of the neck and head.
Younger ducks may have a speckled black and white appearance in these places until they mature.
One of the cutest, smallest and most beautiful ducks on this list is the Bufflehead. Despite the silly name, these ducks look majestic: The front of the face and head and the top of the body all along the back is a rich, even black.
The sides of the face, back of the head and undercarriage are all a similarly even white that is barely punctuated by the faintest gray shading in places.
Gorgeous and adorable, this is another duck that is very commonly found wintering in the state of Tennessee so they can be spotted elsewhere in North America at other times.
Partially Black and White Ducks
Ducks in this category might not be black and white all over, but they have significant markings or patches of black and white plumage.
8. Common Merganser
Commonly found on rivers and the shorelines of rivers across North America, the Common Merganser is a large bodied duck that eats a lot of animal protein in the form of fish and other marine life, including crustaceans and shellfish, but also amphibians, and even some small mammals.
Males of the species have a striking, sparse coloration with iridescent emerald heads punctuated by mottled ash black feathers on their back.
The breasts and flanks are a luminous white. You’ll routinely see these large ducks congregating in flocks out on the water.
Crested ducks are large and in charge, with fabulous hairstyles to match. Males and females alike both have impressive tufts of feathers that wrap around the sides and backs of their heads.
Impressively large and powerfully built, these ducks aren’t great flyers but they are strong swimmers, and prefer to skim and pick at food they find on the surface of the water.
Males have varying patches of charcoal black, gray and white on their bodies and wings with a rusty-colored neck capped by another black and white patch followed up by iridescent green feathers on the face and top of the head.
Females aren’t quite as spectacular looking, but do have black and white speckling across their bodies the contrast their tan and fawn-colored feathers.
The greatly beloved and colorful Wood duck is a regular sight all along the west coast, but they can also be found along the coasts of the American Deep South and Gulf Coast.
These ducks are a riot of colors, with mahogany backs flanked by striated black and white, a ruby red or orange-red breast and iridescent heads of purple, green, blue and violet, all punctuated by those mesmerizing orange eyes.
Although these ducks are actually a medium size breed, usually weighing about 1 ½ to 1 ¾ pounds, they have a strange shape and posture that makes them appear smaller.
11. Lesser Scaup
Another species of diving duck that is regularly mistaken for its close cousin, the Greater Scaup, these males of this species are notable for deep black feathers that have an oily, purple sheen.
These feathers cover the heads and are set off dramatically by their yellow-orange eyes. The rest of the body is split in half vertically with a shining white lower half topped by an intricate, dazzling pattern of black lines over that same white.
The tail end of the duck, including the flanks at the rear, is coal black.
Females are various shades of tan, gray, brown and a rich black-brown but you will sometimes see faint black and white speckling down their spines.
Also notably, these ducks undergo a tremendous migration, breeding in the northwestern United States and Canada before flying all the way down to the East, Southeast and Gulf Coast of the US.
12. Greater Scaup
The greater scaup looks very, very similar to the lesser scaup, with a few differences that only serious duck lovers or bird watchers will be able to spot: the greater scaup is identified, though not easily, by its lack of fluffier feathers on the top of its head.
This gives its head more of a domed appearance compared to that of its lesser cousin. The black markings at the end of their gray beak also tend to be larger.
Other than that, they look identical to the lesser scaup, psychedelic black and white patterns on their backs and all.
Another slender-bodied duck with dramatic coloration, the Tufted duck has, as the name suggests, a tuft of feathers on its head, very much like the crested duck.
Unlike the crested duck, the tufts of the tufted duck are located directly on the back of the head, far more prominent in males than in females.
These ducks are mostly all black, set off by the stark white contrast of their sides. This duck can also be found globally, with a range that stretches from much of North America, including Alaska, all the way through Asia and Europe.
14. King Eider
Impressively named ducks, these large-bodied sea-dwellers have the size and appearance to back up such a lofty title.
The royal regalia of males in this species ranges from off-white heads and necks to a black body with lower surfaces of the wings, body and part of the back being a bright, contrasting white.
The King Aider gets its name from the orange protuberance located just above the bill which further contrasts with the iridescent blue-gray and green of the male’s face, looking very much like a crown or tiara.
Females, as usual, lack this spectacular coloration, being overall a medium brown color that is set off with intricate, rippling black.
All can be seen eating marine life while at sea, and various plants and seeds while on land.
15. Spectacled Eider
The next, but not the last, Eider on our list, this is another impressively large duck. Once more, males of this species have a striking appearance, with a jet-black body topped by a white back and upper flanks.
The heads are a sea foam green or gray color, sometimes called pistachio, with the most distinctive feature being that which gives this breed its name: large, circular white patches covering either eye, rimmed in black.
It looks like they are wearing glasses! The protuberance of the Spectacled Eider is covered with feathers, unlike the King Eider.
Females are beautiful, but they lack black and white plumage. Once more they are a rusty, toasted red-brown color punctuated by thin irregular stripes that make them look very much like a tiger.
16. Common Eider
The third and final Eider on our list, the Common Eider is, like its cousins, a hefty sea duck, and like the Spectacled Eider the males of the species have black lower bodies with white upper bodies and flanks extending down the tail.
This upper-and-lower coloration is also seen on the head, with most of the neck and sides of the face going towards the bill being white, but the Common Eider has a distinctive black cap over the top of the head and eyes that borders the protuberance above the beak on either side.
They look very much like they are wearing a Zorro mask if you ask me!
Another striking and beautiful duck, the Ringneck shows black and white color on males and females alike, but probably not the way you are thinking.
Once again with the males, we see an ashy black head, breast, back and wings extending down the tail feathers with a swooping dusty white color on the undersides and extending up either side of the breast.
The beak of the males is a cobalt blue color with black fringes that has an encircling white band near the tip.
Females are brown all over except their beaks, which are a midnight blue color that appears almost black.
They have a similar horizontal band of white on their beaks in the same place as the males, only it is smaller and less vivid.
Not much for diving, watch for these ducks around small ponds and on shallow rivers. They don’t like diving, and prefer to eat on the surface.
Sea ducks that subsist typically on a diet it is almost entirely shellfish, mollusks and fish, Long-tails are small bodied birds that nonetheless have a magnificent coloration, consisting of irregularly blocked whites, grays, browns and black.
Perhaps most notably, they have a small black beak that is surrounded by a pink or cream-colored band.
As is typical, females aren’t quite as spectacular colored, although they do have blotchy brown bodies with dark, nearly black bills and white faces, so they still qualify.
One of the most well-known and popular, but most argued over duck species is the Ancona.
Ancona ducks have broken, rough, almost scale-like patterns on their bodies consisting of various shades of brown and tan mixed in with black and white.
It would be an effective camouflage, but the frontal part of their sides and much of the breast and neck tend to be solid white, spoiling the effect!
What makes these ducks so controversial is that no one is quite sure where they came from.
The two leading theories are either the US or the UK, but these ducks aren’t even recognized by major poultry associations in the United States or in Europe. Nonetheless, they remain popular and lovable domestic ducks.
20. Common Pochard
Graceful and compact medium-sized ducks, both male and female Common Pochards have a black and white feature though the similarities end there.
Females are common looking, nearly plain, with striated gray and brown feathers punctuated by a black bill that has a gray band.
Males are an altogether different story, with a two-tone white and gray body, dark brown to black breast and redhead tipped by a boldly black and white beak.
The eyes are a piercing, fiery red in males. You won’t forget him if you see him!
21. Barrows Goldeneye
Once again, only males of the Barrows Goldeneye breed have the black and white feathers we are after, but they are among the most impressive-looking specimens.
If you see one of these ducks, you’ll be greeted by black and white feathers all over their bodies crowned by shiny purple or iron-colored heads accented by blazing white crescent moon shapes on either side of the face.
22. Common Goldeneye
Strictly a North American breed that is particularly common throughout Tennessee in the winter and into early spring.
They’re also extremely notable for the strange whistling sound that they make when lifting off; not a call, this sound is actually created by their wings!
Anyway, it is the males again that have the black and white coloration, consisting of a dark green, to green black head with a round white patch around the bill and throat.
The back is similarly black while the flanks, much of the breast and the underside are white to off-white.
Tom has lived and worked on farms and homesteads from the Carolinas to Kentucky and beyond. He is passionate about helping people prepare for tough times by embracing lifestyles of self-sufficiency.