Ruddy Ducks, Oxyura jamaicensis
Ruddy Ducks inhabit freshwater habitats, including marshes, ponds, and lakes primarily in North America, breeding in the western United States, southwestern Canada, and parts of Mexico. Some introduced populations are also established in Europe, South America, and New Zealand.
Ruddy Ducks primarily feed on aquatic invertebrates, such as insects, crustaceans, mollusks, and small fish. They are skilled divers and obtain their prey by diving underwater, using their strong legs and lobed toes for propulsion. They are also known to feed on seeds and plant matter, particularly during the non-breeding season.
During courtship displays, the males perform complex behaviors, including head-bobbing, raising their tails, and making bubbling or popping sounds by expelling air from their inflated neck feathers.
Ruddy Ducks are known for their unique nesting habits. They build their nests in dense emergent vegetation, such as cattails and bulrushes, located in or near the water. The nests are often constructed as platforms above the water, using vegetation and plant material. The female is the primary nest builder.
Females lay 6-15 eggs, which are creamy white in color. Incubation lasts for around 23-29 days, primarily undertaken by the female. Once the eggs hatch, the young ducklings leave the nest within a day or two. They are capable of swimming and diving soon after hatching and are able to find their own food. The female provides care and protection to the young until they become independent.
Ruddy Duck ducklings fledge within 50-55 days after hatching. The timing may vary depending on factors such as food availability and weather conditions.
During the winter, they move to warmer regions. Some populations migrate to coastal areas, large lakes, or wetlands, while others may remain in their breeding range if suitable habitat and food are available.