Redhead

Aythya americana

Summary 5

Ironically, the Redhead is not the only duck in North America with a red head. In many parts of its range, this species occurs side by side with another redheaded duck, the Canvasback (Aythya valisineria), and a couple field marks must be noted in order to distinguish the two. The Redhead is slightly smaller (19-20 inches), has a shorter bill, and is darker on the back and flanks. Males have a red head and grey body, while females are mostly dark brown.

The Redhead breeds primarily in the northern Great Plains, with smaller breeding populations in the southern Plains, the Rockies, and Alaska. Although some western areas see Redheads all year, most Redhead populations migrate south to the southern two-thirds of the United States and into Mexico in winter. Despite this vast winter range, much higher concentrations of wintering Redheads may be found along the coast than in the interior. Redheads breed in freshwater wetlands. In winter, this species primarily inhabits coastal areas with plentiful seagrasses.

Redheads predominantly eat aquatic plants in summer; in winter, their diet includes seagrasses and mollusks. One of several species of “diving ducks” in North America, Redheads may be observed submerging themselves to feed on submerged plant matter. In winter, they may also be observed in large flocks on coastal bays and lagoons. This species is primarily active during the day.

Threat Status: Least concern

Sources and Credits

  1. (c) John Clare, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-ND), https://www.flickr.com/photos/johnclare/14568165343/
  2. (c) Jeff Whitlock, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-SA), http://www.flickr.com/photos/30451654@N07/2854178297
  3. (c) lonnyholmes, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC), http://www.inaturalist.org/photos/1533754
  4. (c) Manuel Grosselet, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC), http://www.inaturalist.org/photos/1515195
  5. Adapted by carmacks_bioblitz from a work by (c) Unknown, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-SA), http://eol.org/data_objects/22710021

More Info

Range Map

iNatCA Map

Animal Bird
Color brown, red
Bird Anatidae (ducks geese & swans)