Size: 19.5 to 24" (50-61 cm). One of the largest diving ducks. Males have a chestnut-red head and neck. Breast and tail black. Mid body whitish. Female grayish with a brown breast. Bill on both sexes black, long and sloping from the forehead. The shape of the head, more pointed with a shallow sloping forehead, is distinctive to the Canvasback.
Similar Species- Redheads are commonly confused with Canvasbacks. Male Redheads have rounded heads and shorter bills. The chestnut on a Redhead does not extend as far down the neck. Redheads are also not as white as Canvasbacks. Red-breasted and Common Mergansers have a long, thin, orange bills and crested heads.
Male gives a cooing sound during courting. Female quacks.
Breeds from central Alaska and northwestern Canada, south to northern California, and locally in inland areas to western Nevada, northern Utah, northern Colorado, central New Mexico, and parts of Midwest. Winters along Pacific Coast from Alaska to Baja California, and east through parts of Midwest to Great Lakes; also winters along East Coast from New England to Florida, and west along Gulf Coast to Mexico. Nests primarily in southeastern Idaho.
Found on marshes, ponds, lakes, rivers and bays. Winters on deep, freshwater lakes and rivers as well as on sheltered bays and estuaries. In Idaho, associated with large rivers, lakes and reservoirs.
Feeds on aqautic plants such as pondweeds, wild celery, water lilies, seeds of grasses, wild rice, sedges, arrowhead, and bulrushes. Rhizomes, tubers, and seeds figure prominently in winter diet. Will also eat some animal food such as mollusks, aquatic insects, and small fishes.
Dives underwater to obtain food. Builds concealed, cup-shaped nest over water. In some areas, nests are commonly parasitized by Redhead.
No references are available at this time.