Ruddy Duck

photo by Phil Swanson

Oxyura jamaicensis
L 15″(38 cm).

Song or calls:
Usually quiet. Courting males, thumping note and weak croak.

Description: Small, pudgy duck. Bright chestnut body, black cap, white cheek patch, and light blue bill. Stiff tail is raised when displaying. Female is brown with a dark line running horizontally across a light cheek patch. Female bill is brown.

ruddy duck
Habitat: Migrants prefer lake and reservoir habitats with open water and feeding areas with mud bottoms. Breed on prairie marshes with abundant emergent vegetation and open water.

Where in Nebraska: Common statewide spring and fall migrant. Common breeder at Valentine and Crescent Lake National Wildlife Refuges. Uncommon breeder in sandhills. Rare breeder in Rainwater Basin.

Fun Facts: The Ruddy Duck has spiky tail feathers that are used during courtship displays. Males blow bubbles to attract females and ward off other males.

female Ruddy Duck - photo by Phil Swanson male Ruddy Duck - photo by Phil Swanson
(click image for larger view)