When you go to your local park pond, you are likely to see a consistent cast of birds on the water, some pretty and some not so much… It’s good to familiarize yourself with the park birds you are about to see to make identification easier. This article will help you identify some of the water birds you are likely to see and to answer the question, “What’s that ugly duck at the park called?“.

Muscovy Duck.

The ugly duck at the park is called the Muscovy Duck. A black and white duck, the Muscovy duck’s face is covered in lumpy red skin. It has blotchy markings and is often found mingling with Mallards and other waterfowl at your local park.

Egyptian Goose

These chonker geese at the park are domestic, meaning they are placed there rather than being a native species. You’ll recognize these birds by their dark eye circles and plump shape.


The default duck most people think of. Male mallards have emerald green heads and the females are all brown.

Mute Swan

Swan Princess or Swan Swan? The Mute Swan is a graceful and potentially intimidating presence at your local park. Ready to reach over its neighbors to grab food thrown into the water.

American Coot

These small black birds with bright white beaks will often be seen in large numbers at your local park. They are smaller than mallards and have red eyes.

Gull sp.

Not just a seagull, but the gull you see at the park surely has a name: Laughing Gull, Franklin’s Gull, Western Gull, California Gull to name a few. Pay attention to some of the salient characteristics and you’ll surely be able to find it in your field guide.

American Wigeon

These brown fowl have a splash of green on the sides of their faces and white on top of their head.


These guys will be seen swimming around in the water and diving for fish. They are often found drying their wings in the sun by holding them open.


Buffleheads are easily recognizable black waterfowl with a white wedge on the back of their heads.

Great Egret

You don’t want to be a fish standing around one of these…

Great Blue Heron

Fish hate these too!

Canada Goose

Apex predator or friendly migrating bird? It depends on who you talk to.

Master identification of all your local park birds with a handy birding field guide.

Featured image: TexasEagle | Flicker