Ruddy Duck

Oxyura jamaicensis

A member of the tribe of "stiff-tailed ducks," the Ruddy Duck has a spiky tail that it often holds straight up in display.

Interesting Information

  • The Ruddy Duck has spiky tail feathers that are used in courtship displays.

  • Occasionally males lack white cheeks and can be confused with the Masked Duck.

  • They are considered an invasive species in Great Britain. They have become a threat to the native White-headed ducks with whom they hybridize and compete with for nesting sites.

  • A group of ducks has many collective nouns, including a "brace", "flush", "paddling", "raft", and "team" of ducks.


Adult Description

  • Size: 35-43 cm (14-17 in)

  • Wingspan: 56-62 cm (22-24 in)

  • Weight: 300-850 g (10.59-30.01 ounces)

  • Small duck.

  • Large white cheek patches.

  • Dark cap.

  • Bill blue or bluish.

  • Long tail often held up.

  • Breeding male bright cinnamon red.

Sex Differences

Male with bright white cheeks; reddish in breeding plumage. Female browner with dark line through cheek patch.


Similar to adult female.


Photo taken from: The Sibley Field Guide by David Allen Sibley

© 2003 Cornell Lab of Ornithology


Preferred breeding habitats include freshwater marshes, marshy lakes, and ponds. Found in marshes and shallow coastal bays during winter.


Forages on the water surface and by diving.


Feeds on pondweeds, wild celery, algae, seeds, aquatic insects, shellfish, and crustaceans.



Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
     Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Aves
Order: Anseriformes
Family: Anatidae
    Subfamily: Anatinae
Genus: Oxyura
Species: Oxyura jamaicensis
    Subspecies: Oxyura jamaicensis jamaicensis
  Oxyura jamaicensis rubida

Similar Species

  • Female Black Scoter has whitish cheeks, but is larger, darker, has a dark chest, and prefers salt water (ruddy prefers fresh water).

  • Masked Duck lacks white cheeks; female has two dark lines across face.

  • Cinnamon Teal lacks stiff tail and white cheeks

Bird Sound

Usually silent except in courtship. Male makes series of muffled popping noises.

Eggs look like this

Photo taken from: ARCTOS Collaborative Collection Management Solution