Common Name

Scientific Name

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Photo by Larry Dalton and Laura Romin
Photo Copyright Larry Dalton and Laura Romin

The ruddy duck, Oxyura jamaicensis, occurs in much of North America during its breeding season, migrating southward from the northern parts of its range for the winter. The species may be found in Utah year-round, but most Utah individuals migrate to the south, and few remain in the state during the winter. Ruddy ducks generally nest in thick vegetation along the edges of fresh water marshes and ponds; the nest is usually a floating structure built from plants. Some individuals may also lay eggs in the nests of other waterfowl species.

Females lay an average of eight eggs during late spring or early summer, and the young may be tended by both parents. The young can fly in six to seven weeks. Ruddy ducks eat a wide variety of plants and invertebrates; their diets vary with age, site, and season.

During the breeding season, males have a bluish colored bill, a tail that is stiffly cocked upright, and a reddish-brown color. During other times of the year, however, males are grayish-brown in color, and they lack the bluish bill and upright trail.


  • Biotics Database. 2005. Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, NatureServe, and the network of Natural Heritage Programs and Conservation Data Centers.

  • Peterson, R. T., and V. M. Peterson. 1990. A field guide to western birds, 3rd ed. Houghton Mifflin, Boston. 432 pp.