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

Ruddy Duck

Ruddy Duck
Oxyura jamaicensis
Duck-like Birds | Family: Ducks and Geese, Anatidae

An estimated 7% of the species' North American population breeds within the Boreal Forest.

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Overview

This duck is one of the most aquatic members of the family and like a grebe can sink slowly out of sight. Although it can avoid danger by diving or by hiding in marsh vegetation, it is a strong flier and undertakes long migrations to and from its nesting places. Largely vegetarian, it favors pondweed and the seeds of other aquatic plants, but also consumes large numbers of midge larvae during the breeding season.

Description

14-16" (36-41 cm). A small, chunky duck with a long tail that is often held straight up. Male in breeding plumage has chestnut body, black crown, and white cheeks. Female and winter male are dusky brown, with whitish cheeks of female crossed by a dark stripe. Male's bill is blue in breeding season, black at other times.

Voice

Usually silent. Courting male produces ticking and clapping sounds by pressing its bill against its breast.

Nesting

6-20 white or cream-colored eggs in a floating nest of dry stems lined with down, concealed among reeds or bulrushes in a marsh.

Habitat

Breeds on freshwater marshes, marshy lakes, and ponds; winters on marshes and in shallow coastal bays.

Range/Migration

Breeds from British Columbia, Mackenzie, and Quebec south to California, southern New Mexico, and southern Texas, with occasional breeding farther east. Winters on coasts north to British Columbia and Massachusetts and as far inland as Missouri.