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Ruddy Duck

Above: Ruddy Duck (photo courtesy of Ducks Unlimited Canada)

What Does It Look Like?
Ruddy Ducks are small diving ducks, with stout, scoop-shaped bills and short tails that are often tilted upward.  Mature breeding males are distinctive with their blue bills, black caps, white cheek patches and chestnut colouring.  Winter-plumage males are grey-brown above and the once vibrant bill turns grey.  Females and first year males are similar to the off-season males, but have an indistinct stripe across the cheek.

Does It Migrate?
This species winters in the southern two-thirds of the USA to southwestern Mexico.  The Caribbean and South America host resident populations, the latter populations sometimes considered a separate species.

Where Does It Live?
Ruddy Ducks breed primarily in the Prairie Potholes region (see:; also up to Great Slave Lake, some valleys west of the Rocky Mountains, and around the Great Lakes.

Above: Ruddy Duck (photo by Lynnea Parker)

Where Can I See It?
In freshwater marshes, ponds, potholes and sloughs in southwestern Manitoba, also Oak Hammock Marsh, Shoal Lakes and in Winnipeg.

Populations are currently considered stable in Canada.

Above: Ruddy Duck with young, 1971 (from NM Archives)

Did You Know?
In the 1930s and 1940s, Ruddy Ducks (native to the Americas) were brought to England for inclusion in waterfowl collections.  Escaped Ruddy Ducks formed large breeding populations throughout the UK (numbers peaking at an estimated 6000-6500 individuals).  Still extant in England, Ruddy Duck is also found in several other European countries.  Management programs have been established in some of these to protect biodiversity and inhibit interbreeding with the globally threatened White-headed Duck.