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
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.
Similar Species: Masked Duck (only found well south of
Conservation Status: Much less common than in 19th century.
Hunting and habitat loss led to decreases in both numbers and range.
Cornell University's "All About Birds - Ruddy Duck"
eNature.com: Ruddy Duck
Whatbird.com: 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.