Aythya Americana

Redhead pair, feeding. ©DUC

Redhead ducks are exclusively North American ducks, found nowhere else on earth.

Appearance

  • Redhead ducks are medium-sized diving ducks.
  • They have dark eyes circled by a white eye-ring and a greyish-blue bill.
  • Their grey wings have a light grey band, which extends into the primaries.

Breeding

  • Breed in high concentrations in the prairie pothole region, along the shores of Ontario’s Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River in Quebec and on the island river deltas of the boreal forest.
  • Pair bonds are initiated in late winter, increase during spring migration and peak in late April.
  • Late-nesting and prefers to nest over water in bulrush, cattails or sedges.
  • Incubation is 28 days.
  • Ducklings fly at 60 days.

Habitat: Seasonal and semi-permanent wetlands, natural lakes and reservoirs. Prefers deep water wetlands for breeding and brood rearing. Winters in shallow coastal waters with abundant sea grasses.

Range: Redheads arrive on the breeding grounds of western and central Canada and the U.S. as soon as the ice breaks in the spring.

Diet: Redheads feed by diving, gleaning from the surface, or dabbling just below the surface. They eat seeds, buds and tubers of submergent aquatic plants, as well as larvae, eggs, snails and other aquatic invertebrates.

Interesting Facts

  • The redhead flight pattern is erratic and fast.
  • The redhead has the greatest propensity of all ducks to carry out nest parasitism, in which the female redhead will push other females off their nests, then leave her eggs for the original hens to care for. Canvasbacks and other redheads are primary targets.

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