A male ruddy duck is about 5½ to 6 inches
long and weighs about 1.3 pounds; the female is
Both sexes are similarly colored in the winter
-- gray/brown with white breasts and bellies. In
the spring, the male sports a red-brown chest,
rump and flank, and a white streak on the cheeks.
Characteristics of the species include large gray
feet and a concave bill, which is gray is the
winter but will change to a blue-gray in the
spring for males.
Distribution and Habitat
The ruddy duck ranges throughout much of the
United States, as well as north into Canada and
south into central Mexico. It has also been
introduced into Great Britain. It can be found
just about anywhere there is open water (fresh or
alkaline) and cover for protection during
Mating begins with an elaborate display by the
male in front of the female. The male swims by
the female several times with his tail raised in
a fan, and then slaps his bill against his chest
to produce a drumming sound and create bubbles
from beneath his chest. The display appears to
have more to do with territory declaration than
courtship, however, since the female rarely pays
much attention. The male may mate with more than
one female, but will almost always return to swim
with the young of the first mate after they
Nesting begins in late May and peaks in the
beginning of June. The nest is built gradually
from grass as the number of eggs increases. On
average, a female will lay one egg a day, with
anywhere from 5 to 15 eggs being laid per clutch.
Incubation last about 25 days, and chicks fledge
at about 60 days of age. Ruddy ducks become
sexually mature at about one year.
Ruddy ducks are primarily herbivorous but they
will also eat animals. The diet includes
pondweeds, stems and leaves, as well as insect
larvae. Food is acquired by surface dives.
Habits and Behaviors
The migration period for ruddy ducks living in
the northern portions of the species range
generally begins in September and lasts until the
end of October. The ducks usually migrate at
night and typically move in flocks that can
number into the hundreds. Migration back north
begins in February and continues into April.
Ruddy ducks are generally nocturnal.
Ruddy ducks are poor fliers and require long
"runways" to get airborne, so their
best defense against danger is to either swim or
genus & species Oxyura jamaicensis
Animal Diversity Web http://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Oxyura_jamaicensis/
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