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Ruddy Duck

Oxyura jamaicensis

Length: 15 inches Wingspan: 22 inches Seasonality: Summer / Migrant
ID Keys: Blue bill, black cap, white face, stiff black tail.

Ruddy Duck - Oxyura jamaicensisA unique small duck, readily identifiable by the male's bluish bill (in breeding plumage), white face, and long, stiff, upright black tail (See photo at the right).  Ruddy Ducks are often reluctant to fly, and when disturbed, often will sink below the surface and swim away underwater like a grebe rather than fly away.  They are nearly incapable of walking on land, with legs and feet set very far back on the body.  Ruddy Ducks are generally relatively tame, making the species susceptible to hunting pressures

Habitat: Breeds on freshwater ponds and lakes with marshy borders.  Many winter along coastlines in shallow bays and estuaries, but some may be found inland where open water is available.

Diet: Seeds, other plant material including roots and leaves, aquatic insects and their larvae, crustaceans, mollusks, occasionally small fish.

Behavior: Forages by diving and swimming underwater.  It uses its bill to pluck mud from the lake bottom, straining the mud to obtain food items contained within. 

Nesting: June and early July

Song: Generally silent

Migration: Summers throughout much of the western half of the United States and Canada, locally around the Great Lakes.  Summers near both coasts, the southern United States, and points south.

Interactive eBird map: Click here to access an interactive eBird map of Ruddy Duck sightings

Similar Species: Masked Duck (only found well south of the state).

Conservation Status: Much less common than in 19th century.  Hunting and habitat loss led to decreases in both numbers and range.

Further Information: 1) USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Ruddy Duck

2) Audubon Guide - Ruddy Duck

3) Ruddy Duck

Photo Information: March 25th, 2007 - Minnehaha County, South Dakota - Terry Sohl

Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or text links below for additional, higher-resolution Ruddy Duck photos.


Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Ruddy Duck - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Common migrant throughout the state.  Common summer resident in the northeastern part of the state, uncommon elsewhere.

Additional Ruddy Duck Photos
Click for a higher-resolution version of these photos
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