Ruddy Duck

General description.

The "Ruddy Duck" is small and chunky with a long, stiff fan-shaped tail, which he carries in an upright position. Like the grebe, this aquatic diving bird can sink slowly out of sight.

Female appearance.

The female is dusky brown as is the winter male. She has whitish cheeks crossed by a dark stripe.

Flight pattern.

The "Ruddy Duck" is a strong flier and undertakes long migrations.

Breeding habits.

The "Ruddy Duck" breeds from British Columbia south to California, southern New Mexico and Texas, occasionally breeding farther east. In his courtship display, the male beats his bill against his neck, producing a tapping sound and forcing air out of the feathers, which causes bubbles to appear in the water.

Calls or song.

Male and female are silent most of the year. During mating, aside from the belching that males produce as part of their bubbly displays, they make only an "aa-anh" call. Females call to their young in a nasal "raanh". They also hiss when threatened.

Population and distribution.

The "Ruddy Duck" winters around the coastal perimeter of the United States and as far inland as Missouri. They are most vegetarian, favoring pond weed, seeds and other aquatic plants, but also consume large numbers of midge larvae during breeding season.

Nesting habits.

The female builds her nest out of grass, locating it in tall vegetation to hide it from predators. A typical group of young ranges from 5-15 ducklings.
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