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Ruddy Duck Oxyura jamaicensis


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Ruddy Duck, male
credit: Chris huh/CCSA

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Anatidae, Ducks and Geese view all from this family

Description ADULT MALE In breeding plumage, has orange-chestnut body plumage, white cheeks, black cap and nape, and bright blue bill. Note also the small white vent. Outside breeding season, body plumage is gray-brown and bill is more dull grayish. ADULT FEMALE Gray-brown plumage, with paler cheeks that are broken by dark line from base of bill; bill is dull blue-gray, similar to that seen in winter male.

Dimensions Length: 14-16" (36-41 cm)

Habitat Local breeding species in east, favoring fresh__water marshes and well-vegetated lakes; nests among emergent vegetation. In winter, found on sheltered estuaries and bays on Atlantic and Gulf coasts, and ice-free lakes and ponds inland.

Range California, Great Lakes, Rocky Mountains, Mid-Atlantic, Texas, Western Canada, Plains, New England, Southwest, Northwest, Florida, Eastern Canada, Alaska, Southeast

Voice Mostly silent.

Discussion Small diving duck that feeds on aquatic invertebrates and submerged roots and seeds. Both sexes regularly cock their spiky-looking tails. Breeding male is unmistakable and engages in "bubbling" chest-beating courtship displays in spring. In winter, all birds could perhaps be confused with a small grebe, but Ruddy Duck's proportionately large bill easily dispels confusion.