Ruddy Duck

Oxyura jamaicensis




Ducks, Geese and Swans (Anatidae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:

Creamy white, nest stained.

Number of Eggs:

5 - 17

Incubation Days:

23 - 26

Egg Incubator:


Nest Location:

In dense marsh vegetation, over shallow water.

Nest Material:

Grasses, reeds, and cattails lined with down.





Ruddy Duck: Small duck with bright red-brown body; black cap extends below the eyes and onto the nape, contrasting sharply with white face; heavy bill is blue. Tail is black and often held erect when swimming. Some males show all black head, lacking white cheek patches. Female has gray-brown body, dark cap extending below eyes, dark cheek stripe through gray cheek patch and dark gray bill. Juvenile resembles female but has paler cap and face markings. Winter male is similar to female but has white cheeks and blue-gray bill.

Range and Habitat

Ruddy Duck: Breeds from British Columbia, Mackenzie, and Quebec south to California, southern New Mexico, and southern Texas, occasionally breeding farther east. Winters on coasts north to British Columbia and Massachusetts and as far inland as Missouri. Preferred breeding habitats include freshwater marshes, marshy lakes, and ponds. Found in marshes and shallow coastal bays during winter.

Breeding and Nesting

Ruddy Duck: Five to seventeen creamy white eggs, nest stained, are laid in a floating nest made of dry stems lined with down and concealed in reeds or bulrushes. Incubation ranges from 23 to 26 days and is carried out by the female.

Foraging and Feeding

Ruddy Duck: These ducks feed on pond weeds, wild celery, algae, seeds, aquatic insects, shellfish and crustaceans. Adults forage almost exclusively by diving, but occasionally forage by skimming the water surface and straining food from the water. There is no difference in the diet between sexes, or between adults and ducklings.


Ruddy Duck: Courting male produces ticking and clapping sounds by pressing its bill against its breast.

Similar Species

Ruddy Duck: Masked Duck lacks white cheeks; female has two dark lines across face. Cinnamon Teal lacks stiff tail and white cheeks.

The area on top of the head of the bird.
The front part of the head consisting of the bill, eyes, cheeks and chin.
Also called the hindneck or collar, it is the back of the neck where the head joins the body.
The upper front part of a bird.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X