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Ruddy Duck

From Opus

MalePhoto © by OppieHoricon Marsh, Wisconsin, USA; May 2013
Photo © by Oppie
Horicon Marsh, Wisconsin, USA; May 2013
Oxyura jamaicensis


[edit] Identification

FemalePhoto © by bobsofpaSweetwater Wetlands, Tucson, Arizona, USA;
Photo © by bobsofpa
Sweetwater Wetlands, Tucson, Arizona, USA;

Length 35–43 cm, wingspan 53-62 cm, weight 310-800 g
A small diving duck. Compact body with large head and stiff tail often cocked up, give it a very distinctive shape. Wings plain dark brown in all ages and seasons.

Breeding male

  • Striking blue bill
  • Black head with white cheeks
  • Red-brown body

Non-breeding male

  • Grey-brown body
  • Head much as summer male but slightly duller
  • Unlike most ducks, the non-breeding 'eclipse' plumage is seen from late fall through winter to early spring, not late summer


  • Dull brown
  • Striped dark brown and pale buff head pattern


  • Very similar to female; young males slowly gain white cheeks in first winter

[edit] Distribution

Young male, starting to show white cheeksPhoto © by Stanley JonesLaguna Cartagena NWR, Puerto Rico, USA, November 2012
Young male, starting to show white cheeks
Photo © by Stanley Jones
Laguna Cartagena NWR, Puerto Rico, USA, November 2012

Native to North, Central America and the Caribbean.

Introduced to the UK and Europe, where hybridisation with White-headed Duck is causing some concern.

[edit] Taxonomy

This is a monotypic species1.
Andean Duck was formerly included in this species.
The subspecies rubida from the northern part of its range is usually no longer accepted.
Closely related to the other "stifftails" of the genus Oxyura

[edit] Habitat

Marshes, ponds and lakes with areas of open water and emergent vegetation.

[edit] Behaviour

[edit] Action

Dives to feed. Often sinks low in water before diving or even sinks completely to feed without diving.
Rarely seen on land as it walks poorly. They are not often seen in flight.
It cocks the tail much of the time. Except when on the nest spends much time on open water or diving for food.

[edit] Diet

A diving duck.
Their diet consists of aquatic insects, molluscs, crustaceans and worms. Also aquatic plant seeds.

[edit] Breeding

Breeding season varies through range, breeds all year in the tropics, April to August in the northern parts of its range.
A seasonally monogamous species. The nest is a bowl made of dead vegetation on ground or on water, hidden in dense vegetation. Lays 6 to 10 eggs.

[edit] References

  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2018. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2018. Downloaded from
  2. Gill, F and D Donsker (Eds). 2017. IOC World Bird Names (version 7.2). Available at
  3. Del Hoyo, J, A Elliot, and J Sargatal, eds. 1992. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 1: Ostrich to Ducks. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. ISBN 978-8487334108
  4. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved December 2014)
  5. BF Member Observations

[edit] External Links


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