April 05, 2014

Redhead Duck ›

Redhead Duck

Very similar to its white-back cousin, the Redhead (Aytha americana) is a big diving duck with a grey back, white chest, brown almost red head, black neck and throat. Close up, its head seems inflated, its forehead goes straight up and its beak is wide and short. The adult female is as big as a big drake: its head is brown and its feathers too, its chest is white, its chin whitish, its forehead goes straight up, its beak is wide and short and its wings are pearl grey spotted. In autumn, young ducks look like the adult female apart from their chest which is more of a dull greyish brown. The period when the young redhead females finally put on their adult plumage is from November to February.

The redhead nests close to exposed water bodies and during the migration period, it can be found in large groups far from the Great Lakes' borders and bays. To eat, this species prefers shallow water bodies where aquatic vegetation is really dense. It eats surface vegetation. During reproduction, the redhead is found especially in the Canadian Prairies and in the Great Plains of the United States. During Winter, it lives in Mexico's Gulf, on the Pacific and Atlantic's coasts, and on canadian or american land. 

In the end of winter, large male groups try charming a female. During this period, the adult drake’s voice is unique to draw its partner to him. Once the couples are together, the drake leads the female to the place of reproduction, which is usually near where the female was raised. Females lay their eggs late in June or July, usually in well-hidden nests in vegetation that sticks out of water. The redhead nests are composed of reed or cattail leaves and are really deep and covered with down. The brood vary between 6 and 27 eggs! A quantity like this can be found in a unique location, but this only happens because it lays eggs in other nests! Finally, the incubation of the pale olive or cream buff eggs lasts about 24 days. Only the female takes care of the incubation period. As early as their first day, the ducklings are led towards exposed water bodies where they will feed. The ducklings stay with their mother until they can fly (approximately 70 days). In early autumn, the ducklings decide whether they follow their parents or not for the wintering period.