Boreal Birds
300+ species, billions of birds rely on Canada's boreal forest as critical breeding grounds
© Kevin Bercaw/Wikimedia Commons (CC 3.0)

Redhead

Redhead
Aythya americana
Duck-like Birds | Family: Ducks and Geese, Anatidae

An estimated 12% of the species' North American population breeds within the Boreal Forest.

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Overview

Redheads do most of their feeding at night, spending the daylight hours resting on water. Formerly more abundant, this diving duck has declined greatly because of the twin pressures of hunting and habitat destruction. In many areas the introduction of carp from Eurasia has caused the destruction of its aquatic food plants. There are now said to be about 600,000 Redheads left in North America.

Description

18-22" (46-56 cm). Male gray, with brick-red head and black breast. Female duller and browner, with light area around base of bill; has larger and rounder head than female Ring-necked Duck. Both sexes have pale gray wing stripe and pale blue-gray bill. Similar Canvasback has whiter body and sloping forehead and bill.

Voice

Like the meow of a cat; also quacks.

Nesting

10-16 buff eggs in a woven cup of reeds lined with white down and attached to marsh vegetation.

Habitat

Nests in marshes but at other times is found on open lakes and bays; often on salt water in winter.

Range/Migration

Breeds from Alaska and British Columbia east to Minnesota and south to California and Colorado. Winters in southern half of United States, Mississippi Valley, and Great Lakes region.