Common Name

Scientific Name

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Photo by U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Photo Courtesy of U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The canvasback, Aythya valisineria, is a large duck that breeds in Alaska and western Canada, as well as in the northwestern and north-central United States. The species winters across much of North America south of southern Canada, with major wintering areas including Chesapeake Bay, Louisiana, eastern New Mexico, and San Francisco Bay. Canvasbacks pass through Utah during migration, and are uncommon breeders in wetlands in the northern part of the state, especially in the vicinity of the Great Salt Lake. Some individuals may winter in Utah.

The nest, which is a large cup of plant material lined with down, is usually concealed in dense marshland vegetation. Typically seven to nine eggs are laid in May. The male deserts the nest after the clutch is complete; the female alone incubates the eggs for 24 to 27 days and cares for the young. Young leave the nest soon after hatching and are able to fly after ten to twelve weeks. This duck feeds on aquatic vegetation, aquatic invertebrates, and small fishes that it finds by diving.


  • Ehrlich, P. R., D. S. Dobkin, and D. Wheye. 1988. The birder's handbook: a field guide to the natural history of North American birds. Simon and Shuster, Inc., New York. xxx + 785 pp.

  • Baicich, P. J., and C. J. O. Harrison. 1997. A guide to the nests, eggs, and nestlings of North American Birds, Second Ed. Academic Press, San Diego. 347 pp.