• Welcome to BirdForum, the internet's largest birding community with thousands of members from all over the world. The forums are dedicated to wild birds, birding, binoculars and equipment and all that goes with it.

    Please register for an account to take part in the discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.
ZEISS DTI thermal imaging cameras. For more discoveries at night, and during the day.

Ruddy Duck - BirdForum Opus

Photo © by Oppie
Horicon Marsh, Wisconsin, USA; May 2013
Oxyura jamaicensis


Photo © by bobsofpa
Sweetwater Wetlands, Tucson, Arizona, USA;

Length 35–43 cm, wingspan 53-62 cm, weight 310-800 g
A small diving duck. Compact body with large head and stiff tail often cocked up, give it a very distinctive shape. Wings plain dark brown in all ages and seasons.

Breeding male

  • Striking blue bill
  • Black head with white cheeks
  • Red-brown body

Non-breeding male

  • Grey-brown body
  • Head much as summer male but slightly duller
  • Unlike most ducks, the non-breeding 'eclipse' plumage is seen from late fall through winter to early spring, not late summer


  • Dull brown
  • Striped dark brown and pale buff head pattern


  • Very similar to female; young males slowly gain white cheeks in first winter


Young male, starting to show white cheeks
Photo © by Stanley Jones
Laguna Cartagena NWR, Puerto Rico, USA, November 2012

Native to North, Central America and the Caribbean.

Introduced to the UK and Europe, where hybridisation with White-headed Duck is causing some concern.


This is a monotypic species1.
Andean Duck was formerly included in this species.
The subspecies rubida from the northern part of its range is usually no longer accepted.
Closely related to the other "stifftails" of the genus Oxyura


Marshes, ponds and lakes with areas of open water and emergent vegetation.



Dives to feed. Often sinks low in water before diving or even sinks completely to feed without diving.
Rarely seen on land as it walks poorly. They are not often seen in flight.
It cocks the tail much of the time. Except when on the nest spends much time on open water or diving for food.


A diving duck.
Their diet consists of aquatic insects, molluscs, crustaceans and worms. Also aquatic plant seeds.


Breeding season varies through range, breeds all year in the tropics, April to August in the northern parts of its range.
A seasonally monogamous species. The nest is a bowl made of dead vegetation on ground or on water, hidden in dense vegetation. Lays 6 to 10 eggs.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2018. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2018. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Gill, F and D Donsker (Eds). 2017. IOC World Bird Names (version 7.2). Available at http://www.worldbirdnames.org/.
  3. Del Hoyo, J, A Elliot, and J Sargatal, eds. 1992. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 1: Ostrich to Ducks. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. ISBN 978-8487334108
  4. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved December 2014)
  5. BF Member Observations

Recommended Citation

External Links

GSearch checked for 2020 platform.1