Range/Habitat: Ruddy Ducks are found in wetlands and reservoirs across North America. They breed mainly in the prairie pothole region in the US and winter in the US and Mexico.
Behavior: Ruddy Ducks are diving ducks that forage on insects, crustaceans, invertebrates, and small amounts of algae and other aquatic plants. They are fast fliers but can’t maneuver in flight as well as they can in the water and will typically dive and swim to escape predators. During the breeding season, Ruddy Ducks are harassed by American Coots and Grebes. Grebes attack them via a practice called “submarining” where they dive below the duck and strike from underneath.
Breeding: Ruddy Ducks are unique in that they don’t find their breeding mate until they arrive at the breeding location. Males and females typically form breeding-season pairs; however, sometimes one male will mate with multiple females. These cartoonish looking males court females by shaking their bill in the water to create bubbles. Nests are built 2-10 inches above the water in tall vegetation, such as cattails. The female lays 3-13 eggs per clutch and has 1-3 broods per season. Chicks are born precocial (well developed) and immediately begin following their mother.
Conservation: Listing: Least Concern. Ruddy Ducks, along with all waterfowl, are susceptible to pollution, poor water quality, and oil spills. They are heavily reliant on the prairie pothole region in the US, along with many other duck species. The protection of this region is crucial for the survival of our waterfowl!