My adventures in the woods, streams, rivers, fields, and lakes of Michigan

Ruddy Duck, Oxyura jamaicensis

Note: This post, while published, is a work in progress, as are all posts in this series, My Photo Life List. My goal is to photograph every species of bird that is seen on a regular basis here in Michigan, working from a list compiled by the Michigan chapter of the Audubon Society. This will be a lifelong project, that I began in January of 2013, and as I shoot better photos of this, or any other species, I will update the post for that species with better photos when I can. While this series is not intended to be a field guide per se, my minimum standard for the photos in this series is that one has to be able to make a positive identification of the species in my photos. The information posted here is from either my observations or the Wikipedia, the online free encyclopedia, however, I have personally shot all the photos appearing in this series.

Ruddy Duck, Oxyura jamaicensis

Their breeding habitat is marshy lakes and ponds. They nest in dense marsh vegetation near water. The female builds the nest out of grass, locating it in tall vegetation to hide it from predators. A typical brood contains 5 to 15 ducklings. Pairs form each year.

Adult males have a rust-red body, a blue bill, and a white face with a black cap. Adult females have a grey-brown body with a greyish face with a darker bill, cap and a cheek stripe.

They are migratory and winter in coastal bays and unfrozen lakes and ponds.

These birds dive and swim underwater. They mainly eat seeds and roots of aquatic plants, aquatic insects and crustaceans.

On to the photos.

Male ruddy duck

Male ruddy duck

Female ruddy duck

Female ruddy duck

Male ruddy duck

Male ruddy duck

Male ruddy duck diving

Male ruddy duck diving

Female ruddy duck

Female ruddy duck

Male ruddy duck snoozing

Male ruddy duck snoozing

Female ruddy duck after being hit by a wave

Female ruddy duck after being hit by a wave

Female ruddy duck

Female ruddy duck

This is number 35 in my photo life list, only 315 to go!

That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!

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6 responses

  1. Wish I could get this close to our migrating ducks. Ours take flight as soon as I try to get anywhere near them.

    February 20, 2013 at 1:56 am

    • I have the same problem, although my 300 mm lens helps. By the way, these little ducks would rather dive than fly, at least that was the case on this day.

      February 20, 2013 at 2:08 am

  2. Wow, what’s with the bubbles all over that one duck? I’ve never seen that.

    February 20, 2013 at 6:12 am

    • Well, that was taken at one of the storage lagoons at the Muskegon County wastewater treatment facility. The waves were high enough that I had to time when to shoot as to catch the little ruddy ducks on top of the waves, or they were hidden in the troughs between waves. The wave that she is on top of was almost a whitecap, it broke over her, and when it did, it left the bubbles you see. Since it was the wastewater treatment facility, hard saying what was in the water to cause it to form the bubbles seen on the duck. If it had been spring, and a male performing his courting display, the story would be different. Male ruddy ducks blow bubbles to attract females, something that another commentor tipped me off to. I had never heard of that before.

      February 20, 2013 at 9:07 am

  3. I see your female’s tail is up as you said! So funny the differences we see from other regions.

    February 20, 2013 at 10:24 pm

    • It could be that the males had their tails up at times as well, but they were far more skittish than the females, and dove as soon as I approached most of the time.

      February 21, 2013 at 2:15 am