Range/Habitat: Redheads are found throughout North America in pond and other wetlands. They mainly breed in the prairie pothole region of the US and migrate south in the winter. Flocks of up to 60,000 ducks form on two different bays in the Gulf of Mexico to feed on seagrass.
Behavior: Redheads are diving ducks but will also feed by dabbling. They feed on a variety of aquatic plants, fish eggs, and invertebrates. Those that winter in the Gulf of Mexico feed entirely on shoalgrass, small snails, and clams. Redheads are able to fly faster than most other ducks and have a shallow, irregular flight pattern. They are very social ducks and are often found feeding with other species including Canvasbacks, Scaups, Coots and Wigeons.
Breeding: Redheads are seasonally monogamous (have one mate per breeding season) and pair up in their wintering grounds. Males court females by throwing their heads back so far that it almost touches their tail and they are bend in half. The bond between the pair strengthens as they migrate to their breeding grounds. Once the female begins to incubate her eggs, the male leaves to join other males in molting flocks. The female builds a circular nest set on a base of underwater vegetation. She lays 7-8 eggs per clutch that are precocial (well-developed) and able to leave their nest in 1-2 days.
Conservation: Listing: Least Concern. Their populations were much lower due to overhunting. These bold birds fly straight up to hunting decoys, which makes them an easy target. Reduced hunting pressure as well as restoration of wetlands in the prairie pothole region through the North American Waterfowl Management Plan have restored some of the Redhead populations.