Waterfowl of Columbia County, Oregon

Columbia County borders a large river and is speckled with numerous lakes, ponds, and streams, making it a fantastic place to find ducks, geese, and swans. Here are some species you might see.

canada goose oregon columbia county
Canada Goose – Large goose with light breast and mildly sloped forehead. Several subspecies here, at least one breeding unlike Dusky and Cackling which only winter in Oregon. (photo © gutfeeling)
dusky canada goose oregon columbia county
Dusky Canada Goose – Darker breast than other subspecies of Canada Goose. A Sensitive Species, wintering habitat limited to the Lower Columbia and Willamette Valley. (photo © Robin Gwen Agarwal)
cackling goose oregon columbia county
Cackling Goose – Smaller than Canada Goose, with shorter bill and abruptly sloping forehead. Previously wintered in central California but now shifted to our region. (photo © Andy Frank)
brant goose oregon coast columbia county
Black Brant – A small goose with black chest and no cheek patch. Usually eats sea-grass but sometimes ventures inland to agricultural fields. A Sensitive Species in Oregon. (photo © Mike Patterson)
greater white-fronted goose oregon columbia county
Greater White-fronted Goose – A grayish-brown goose with orange feet and white front of face. Smaller with a narrower bill base than a domestic Greylag Goose. (photo © Patricia Teague)
emperor goose oregon columbia county
Emperor Goose – Distinguished by orange feet and white head and back of neck. A northern species considered Near Threatened and rarely seen in our region. (photo © Mike Patterson)
snow goose white oregon columbia county
Snow Goose – White phase nearly all white with black wingtips, blue phase is grayish body with white head and neck. Legs are pink. Smaller than most white domestic geese. (photo © Patricia)
ross's goose oregon columbia county
Ross’s Goose – Similar to Snow Goose but smaller with shorter bill and lacks black line on “lips”. Blue phase has back of neck darker than front. Rarely seen in our region. (photo © cgates326)
Tundra Swan oregon columbia county
Tundra Swan – Far larger than Snow Goose with black bill and facial skin and no black wingtips. Our most common swan, wintering in bodies of water along the Columbia. (photo © Ken Chamberlain)
trumpeter swan oregon columbia county
Trumpeter Swan – Has different shape to black face and lacks yellow spot on bill’s base that Tundra Swan often shows. Made comeback from Endangered status but still Sensitive Species. (photo © Andy Frank)
surf scooter oregon columbia county
Surf Scoter – Unique shape and color to bill. Male has white forehead and female a light vertical oval behind bill. A large diving sea duck that comes inland occasionally in winter. (photo © Ross Millikan)
white-winged scoter oregon columbia county
White-winged Scoter – White wing patch sometimes hidden. White “teardrop” behind eye on male, female has horizontal light patches. Rare visitor more at home in the ocean. (photo © Sally Anderson)
Common Merganser duck oregon columbia county
Common Merganser – The long slender hooked red bill leads the way as this merganser dives for fish. Requires mature forest as it nests in large woodpecker holes. (photo © Kyle Tansley)
red-breasted merganser duck oregon columbia county
Red-breasted Merganser – Darker breast than Common Merganser, and females/nonbreeding males have less white under the eye. Has been recorded flying 100 mph. (photo © willi8101)

hooded merganser duck oregon columbia county
Hooded Merganser – Shorter bill and more distinct crest than other mergansers, though crest can change shape. Found in quiet ponds, nesting in tree holes. (photo © Ashley Bradford)
bufflehead duck oregon columbia county
Bufflehead – Our smallest diving duck, males and females have distinct shape to white on head. Nests in the holes of flickers and medium-sized woodpeckers. (photo © bkinder832)
Common Goldeneye oregon columbia county
Common Goldeneye – Both males and females have distinctly colored eyes and sharp contrast between head and neck. Another tree cavity-nesting diving duck. (photo © Frank Sengpiel)
Barrow's goldeneye oregon columbia county
Barrow’s Goldeneye – Males have less white on sides than Common Goldeneye, and females a more yellow bill. A rare visitor in our area, requires forests to nest. (photo © Karen Steve Smith)
Greater Scaup oregon columbia county
Greater Scaup – Male’s greenish iridescence is only visible in good light. Female has white patch in front of bill. Prefers coastal bays and estuaries but does come to inland lakes. (photo © Collencraig)
Lesser Scaup oregon columbia county
Lesser Scaup – Male’s purple iridescence usually looks dark. Both sexes have more cornered back of head than Greater Scaup. Prefers freshwater, diving into bottom mud for mollusks and plants. (photo © FreckLes)
Redhead oregon columbia county
Redhead – Outside of breeding, males are brown like females but with brighter head. Females lack the white mark behind bill found on scaups and Ring-necked Duck. (photo © abodden)
Canvasback oregon columbia county
Canvasback – More gradually sloped head than Redhead and a heavy black bill. Non-breeding male is like darker, browner female. Dives for vegetation and mud invertebrates. (photo © Ken Butler)
Ring-necked Duck oregon columbia county
Ring-necked Duck – Identified by white ring near tip of bill as glossy neck “ring” is vague. Another invertebrate/plant diver working along the bottoms of wooded waterways. (photo © Chris Rohrer)

ruddy duck oregon columbia county
Ruddy Duck – Males only have blue bill and rust body in breeding season, otherwise identified by white cheek and dark head cap. Dark stripe on female’s cheek is unique. (photo © James Dixon)
Northern Shoveler oregon columbia county
Northern Shoveler – Unique broad shovel bill sets it apart. Like all following species is a “dabbling duck”, sticking its head under the water to find food rather than diving. (photo © willi8101)
Gadwall oregon columbia county
Gadwall – Males have intricate grey/brown chest pattern and white wing patch. Females have orangish-black bill and smaller wing patch. A dabbling duck that prefers open wetlands. (photo © Sheila Hargis)

American Wigeon oregon columbia county
American Wigeon – Gray head with dark eye smudge in both males and females, bill bluish with black tip. Males have white wing patch with green beneath. Another open wetland species. (photo © James Bailey)
Eurasian Wigeon oregon columbia county
Eurasian Wigeon – In winter both sexes have chestnut head and bluish bill with black tip. Silver underwing, not white like American Wigeon. Occasional winter visitor. (photo © Belvedere04)
mallard oregon columbia county
Mallard – Blue or purple wing patch helps identify this large duck in flight. Our most common, adaptable duck, able to utilize practically any body of water. (photo © solkokov2002)
Green-winged Teal oregon columbia county
Green-winged Teal – Our smallest dabbling duck. Males have green stripe on head and both sexes have distinctive cream stripe on rear and green wing patch. (photo © Tommy Farquhar)
Cinnamon Teal oregon columbia county
Cinnamon Teal – Larger than Green-winged Teal with larger bill. Females have blue wing patch in flight, males have both green and blue. Breeds in marshes and ponds in our area. (photo © dlbowls)
Blue-winged Teal oregon columbia county
Blue-winged Teal – Dark eye stripe in females and nonbreeding males is more distinct than for Cinnamon Teal. Males have both green and blue wing patches, females just blue. (photo © gregslak)
Northern Pintail oregon columbia county
Northern Pintail – Large duck with a dark bill, long neck, and long tail. Females and non-breeding males have plain heads with only a very faint eyestripe. (photo © Javier Quiroz)
Wood Duck Aix sponsa columbia county oregon
Wood Duck – This unique duck is one of our few year-round residents, nesting in woodpecker holes in large trees above lakes. It dabbles for food in both land and water. (photo © bwood708)

Also seen passing through Columbia County on very rare occasions are Domestic Swan Goose, Domestic Greylag Goose, Tufted Duck, Black Scoter, Long-tailed Duck, and Harlequin Duck.

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