Web Analytics
The Ivory Bill·Birds·Ducks & Grebes

Canvasback, Aythya valisineria

Canvasback pair in water

Canvasbacks can be found in a variety of habitats, but they are most commonly associated with large freshwater lakes, reservoirs, and marshes. They breed in the northern regions of North America, including Alaska, Canada, and parts of the northern United States. During the non-breeding season, they migrate to wintering grounds in the southern United States, Mexico, and parts of Central America.

Canvasbacks are known for their powerful flight and swift swimming abilities. They can take off directly from the water and are capable of reaching impressive speeds.

Their large, broad bills are specialized for their feeding habits, allowing them to efficiently grasp and consume their preferred food items. They primarily feed on plant material, including the tubers and roots of aquatic plants such as wild celery, which is a preferred food source. They also consume a variety of invertebrates, including insects, snails, and crustaceans.

Canvasbacks dive to considerable depths to forage, using their long necks and powerful bills to reach and grasp their food. They are highly dependent on areas with abundant wild celery beds, and their scientific name, Aythya valisineria, is derived from the scientific name of the plant.

During the breeding season, Canvasbacks nest in freshwater marshes, prairie potholes, or along the shores of large lakes. The females select nest sites on the ground, typically well-concealed among dense vegetation or in elevated areas to protect them from flooding. The nests are shallow depressions lined with plant material and down feathers.

The female Canvasback usually lays a clutch of 6-9 pale greenish or buff-colored eggs. Incubation, which lasts for about 24-28 days, is primarily undertaken by the female. Once the eggs hatch, the precocial ducklings leave the nest and are led by the female to nearby water. The female provides guidance and protection, while the ducklings forage for aquatic plants, seeds, and invertebrates. Canvasback ducklings fledge within 50-60 days after hatching. The exact timing may vary depending on environmental conditions and food availability.

During the non-breeding season, they undertake long-distance migrations, moving to wintering grounds in the southern parts of their range. They can be found in a variety of habitats during winter, including estuaries, bays, and coastal marshes.