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North American Ruddy Duck

Oxyura jamaicensis

Namruddyduck Gallery

About the North American Ruddy Duck

conservation status: least concern

Geographic Range:

range map

Class: Aves
Order: Anseriformes  
Family: Anatidae
Subfamily: Oxyurinae
Genus: Oxyura
Species: jamaicensis

The North American ruddy duck is a species common across the United States and Mexico. They are identified by their long, stiff tail feathers that stand nearly straight up, and they migrate annually from marshy northern breeding grounds in the summer to similar freshwater habitats in the south during winter. This species has been introduced in Europe, where it also thrives.

North American Ruddy Duck Facts

Male ruddy ducks are recognized by their brilliant blue bills, half black and half white faces, and reddish brown bodies. Females, alternatively, are light brown in color with dark brown bills. Both males and females are characterized by the stiff, long feathers on their tails that stick up.

Ruddy ducks enjoy eating seeds and insects in their natural habitat by straining them from the mud underwater, and sometimes snack on mollusks and crustaceans.

Mating and Reproduction:
Females create intricate nests woven together from grasses and other natural materials, lined with down feathers, to protect eggs within their marshy homes. Mating pairs typically raise one brood of five-10 hatchlings per year. Hatchlings are fully able to swim and feed themselves at just one day old, and learn to fly by six weeks old.

This species rarely interacts with other duck species, and instead prefers to remain in groups of solely ruddy ducks. Flying is a challenge for these ducks, and they are usually observed floating, swimming, or diving instead.

Habitat: Marshes, estuaries and other freshwater sources that remain unfrozen in winter.
Range: Throughout North America. Those inhabiting the southwest US are usually permanent residents, while those that inhabit the northern portions of North America breed in the north and overwinter in the southeast US.