This dabbling duck is strongly migratory and winters further south than its breeding range. It is not as gregarious as some dabbling ducks outside the breeding season and tends to form only small flocks.
This species is unmistakeable in the northern hemisphere due to its large spatulate bill. The breeding male has a green head, white breast and chestnut belly and flanks. Its shows a pale blue speculum in flight. The females are light brown, with plumage much like a female Mallard, but their long broad bill easily identifies them.
In non-breeding (eclipse) plumage, the drake looks more like the female.
It is a bird of open wetlands, such as wet grassland or marshes with some emergent vegetation, and feeds by dabbling for plant food often by swing its bill from side to side.. It nests on the ground.
This is a fairly quiet species. The male has a clunking call, whereas the female has a mallard-like quack.