13" long, 4-1/2" high, 6-1/2" wide.
Ruddy Duck is known for holding their spiky tails up in the air.
They have large, flat bills, small wings, and feet set far back
on the body. The male Ruddy Duck is cinnamon in color overall
with a black head, large, white cheek-patch, and bright blue
bill. The male in non-breeding plumage has a mottled gray body
and gray bill. The markings on the head are similar to those
of breeding plumage. The female is mottled gray overall with
black on the top of her head and a dark, horizontal line that
bisects her white cheek. Her bill is gray. The juvenile is similar
to the female, but the black on its face is less pronounced.
winter, Ruddy Ducks inhabit shallow, protected, saltwater bays
and estuaries along the coast or ice-free, inland lakes and ponds.
Breeding habitat is freshwater marshes and ponds with marshy
borders mixed with open water.
Ducks are often found in tight flocks. They forage by diving
under water and straining mud through their bills to find food.
Like many small-winged ducks, Ruddy Ducks must get a running
start across the water to become airborne.
and tubers from aquatic vegetation are a main staple of the Ruddy
Duck's diet. Aquatic insect larvae are especially favored during
the breeding season. Mollusks, crustaceans, and some small fish
are also eaten.
form after the birds have arrived on the breeding grounds. Nests
are situated in dense marsh vegetation. The female builds a platform
of grasses and cattails, lines it with down, and anchors it to
emergent vegetation a few inches above the water. Many nests
are concealed by vegetation pulled over the nest, which gives
them a basket-shaped appearance. Sometimes the nest is built
on top of an old muskrat house or bird's nest. The female lays
5 to 10 eggs (usually 8), and commonly lays eggs in the nests
of other Ruddy Ducks or another species. The female incubates
the eggs for 22 to 26 days. Within a day after hatching, the
young leave the nest and can swim and dive well. They are tended
by the female, but feed themselves. They first fly at 42 to 49
is drawn out over a long period in both spring and fall. The
spring migration begins in late February, and continues through
May. Males undergo a molt migration in July away from the breeding
grounds before they head to the wintering grounds. The fall migration
lasts from late August to November.
current population of Ruddy Ducks is apparently much lower than
historical levels, mostly due to unrestricted hunting at the
beginning of the 20th Century and to loss of nesting habitat.
Christmas Bird Count data show a slight decline in Washington.