Aythya americana
(Redhead Duck)

Order: Anseriformes
Order Description: Swans, Geese, Ducks
Family: Anatidae
Family Description: Swans, Geese and Ducks

Physical Description:
18-22" (26-56 cm). Cinnamon-red head and eye with black-tipped grayish blue bill. Dark gray to black breast and lighter gray wings, flanksClick word for definition, and back. Black under tail. Females uniformly dark brown with lighter, chestnut head and paler belly; pale eye ring.

Similar Species- Canvasback, female scaups

Deep, slurred quack: qwar-qwarq-qwar-qwarq.

Breeds locally in Alaska, east from there through parts of Canada to Minnesota, and south to parts of Southwest and Midwest; also breeds sporadically in portions of eastern states. Winters from southern British Columbia south to Nevada, northern Arizona, and parts of Midwest, and on East Coast from New England south to Mexico and Guatemala.

Found on large marshes, lakes, lagoons, rivers and bays. Winters mostly on brackishClick word for definition and marine lagoons and bays, less frequently in inland freshwater situations. In Idaho, prefers marshy ponds, lakes, and potholes, except in winter, when it uses deep, open water.

Feeds on leaves and stems of aquatic plants. Eats pondweeds, wigeon grass, algae, and seeds of sedges and grasses. Will eat some insects, mollusks, and small crustaceans. North Dakota study found breeding individuals ate 51-70% invertebrates (mostly chironomidsClick word for definition) and 30-49% plant matter; seeds of shallow-marsh emergent plants were important in diet of females during a wet year.

Dives from water surface to obtain food. Builds concealed, cup-shaped nest over shallow water.

In general, breeding begins in late April in southern range, and early June in inorth. clutchClick word for definition size varies from 10- 16 eggs. Female incubatesClick word for definition eggs (incubation lasts 24-28 days) and tends young, which are precocialClick word for definition and downy. Young can fly at 56-73 days. Species often parasitizes other waterfowl nests.

Element Code: ABNJB11030
Status: Game species
Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S4
National Rank: N5B,N5N

Important State References:
No references are available at this time.

Photos by Fred Fallon and C. S. Robbins, ©2002.
Design by Ean Harker©1999, 2000.
Written by Jason Karl, 2000.