North American ruddy duck in exhibit

North American Ruddy Duck

Scientific Name
Oxyura jamaicensis jamaicensis
Geographic Range
Canada, Western U.S., Mexico, and the Caribbean
Aquatic insects and crustaceans (also, seeds and aquatic plants)
North American ruddy duck in exhibit Endangered Status Graph - Least Concern Endangered Status Graph - Least Concern

More Information

North American ruddy ducks are small and compact with scoop-shaped bills and stiff tails. They have a length of 14–17 inches and weigh up to 30 ounces on average, with a wingspan of 2 feet. Breeding males have blue bills with chestnut plumage, black on the head, and white faces. In winter, they look like females and juveniles with gray coloring.

Unlike many duck species, these form mating pairs after arriving at their yearly breeding grounds. Females build nests as a woven platform of grasses and cattails in dense vegetation over shallow water. They lay five to 10 large eggs at a time. Once hatched, ducklings leave the nest within a day and can swim and dive immediately. They can fly at six weeks of age.

Did You Know?

  • North American ruddy duck fossils dating back 11,000 years have been unearthed in Oregon, California, Virginia, Florida, and Illinois.
  • These birds are fast fliers but not very maneuverable in the air, so they may swim or dive to escape danger.
  • Like many duck species, North American ruddy ducks practice brood parasitism, laying eggs in the nests of other birds for them to raise.


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