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Ruddy Duck

Scientific Name:

Oxyura jamaicensis




Marshes, ponds, and lakes.


Many ruddy ducks breed in the prairie pothole regions of the Upper Midwest United States, but they can be found throughout the United States and Mexico.

Parks: Damonte Ranch Park, Rosewood Nature Study Area, and other parks near wetlands.


Least Concern (IUCN Red List)

This species is


to the Truckee Meadows.


Ruddy ducks are waterfowl that are usually about 14 to 17 inches in length. Their wingspan ranges from about 22 to 24 inches. In the summer, males have a distinctly blue beak and a chestnut-brown body. They have bright white cheeks and a black cap. In the winter, they have dull gray and brown feathers, and a dull grey beak. The females and young males have similar coloring to the males in winter, except that they have a faint stripe across their pale cheek patch. Since ruddy ducks feed at night, they are often seen sleeping during the day.

Fast Facts:

  • After ruddy ducks hatch, it only takes about one day for them to be able to leave their nest. When they leave the nest, they are fully capable of both swimming and diving. 

  • Ruddy ducks lay the largest of all duck eggs relative to their body size. 

  • 1,000-year-old fossils of ruddy ducks have been found throughout the United States. 

  • Ruddy ducks are a native species in the Americas. However, in 1951, captive ducks escaped in England. This ruddy duck population eventually expanded into France, Belgium, Spain, and the Netherlands. 


1 Cornell Lab, Ruddy Duck, 2023, 

2 Audubon Guide to North American Birds, Ruddy Duck, 2023, 

3 IUCN Red List, Ruddy Duck, 2018, 

4 Personal Observation


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Last Updated:

March 27, 2024 at 1:51:50 AM

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