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< >  Aythya americana - Redhead (Click photographs/illustrations: full picture & further details)
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INFORMATION AVAILABLE

GENERAL & REFERENCES

EXTERNAL APPEARANCES

REPRODUCTION

BEHAVIOUR

NATURAL DIET

RANGE & HABITAT

CONSERVATION

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General and References

Alternative Names (Synonyms)

Red-headed pochard
Rotkopfente (German)
Fuligule à tête rouge (French)
Milouin américain (French)
Porrón Americano (Spanish)
Cabaza roja (Spanish)

Names for newly-hatched

Duckling, downy.

Names for non-breeding males or other colour-phases

Eclipse.

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References

Species Author

Debra Bourne

Major References

B1, B3, B5, B8, B19, B25.

Aviculture references:
B29, B30, B40, B94, B97, B128.w1
D1, D8

Other References

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TAXA Group (where information has been collated for an entire group on a modular basis)

Parent Group

Specific Needs Group referenced in Management Techniques

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Aviculture Information

Notes

General information:
  • Pochards are diving ducks which spend most of their time on water, and are ungainly on land. They are generally hardy, sociable and easy to maintain in captivity. They should be kept with deep water available for diving, three to seven feet suggested (B29), or at least half the area 60cm and preferably one metre deep (D1), with shallow sloping banks for easy exit from the water, also islands, good marginal vegetation and loafing areas. Water providing a good supply of natural animal and vegetable food is preferred.
  • These ducks may be kept in mixed collections with dabbling ducks, including smaller species such as teal. They should be fed wheat in water, encouraging their natural diving behaviour. Pellets should also be fed. They may breed better if a group rather than single pair kept, as this allows their normal group displaying activity.
  • 12x12x14 inch (30x30x35cm) nest box with 5 inch (12.5cm) entrance hole suggested, placed under cover at the edge of the pond (B128.w1).

(B29, B40, B94, B128.w1, D1)

Species-specific information:

  • Redheads are winter-hardy; they require space and a large pool for breeding. Grain, pellets and greenfoods are suggested for feeding adults.
  • These ducks are fairly easy to breed. They usually lay from April to May, in close cover, open cover or ground-level nest boxes. The ducklings are not difficult to rear but they are highly insectivorous.
  • Hybrids have been reported with Aythya spp., Anas spp., Netta rufina - Red-crested pochard, Netta peposaca - Rosy-billed pochard, Lophodytes cucullatus - Hooded merganser and Aix sponsa - Wood duck.

(B29, B30, B94, B97).

Aviornis UK Ringing Scheme suggested average closed ring size: L 11.0mm (D8).

Management Techniques

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External Appearance (Morphology)

Measurement & Weight

Length 18-22 inches, 40-46cm (B3); 40-56cm (B1).
Adult weight General Average 1030-1080g (B1)
Male Average about 1080g, maximum 1361g (B3); mean 2.4 lbs., maximum 3.1 lbs. (B8).
Female Average about 1030g, maximum 1314g (B3); mean 2.4 lbs. (B8).
Newly-hatched weight --
Growth rate --

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Head

Adult Bill Male Blue-grey with white ring then black tip (B6, B8, B25).
Variations (If present) Female: Duller grey, with white ring then black tip (B6, B8, B25).
Eyes (Iris) Male Yellow (B6, B8, B25)
Variations(If present) Brown (B6, B8, B25)
Juvenile Bill Grey (B6, B25)
Eyes (Iris) Brown, but males begin to show yellow by eight weeks (B3, B6, B25)

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Legs

Adult Male Grey (B6, B25).
Variations (If present) --
Juvenile Grey (B6, B25).

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Plumage

Adult Male Head and neck chestnut red, head rounded; breast, tail, tail coverts, rump, ventral area black. Flanks pale grey, finely vermiculated, upperparts slightly darker vermiculated grey, abdomen pale grey shading to white in centre. Wing grey; primaries paler grey with darker tips, secondaries white-tipped (B3, B6, B8, B25).
Variations (If present) Female:- generally reddish-brown, crown and upperparts darker, flanks with buff feather edges, throat and indistinct eyering and eyestripe white, undertail coverts white. Wings as male.(B5, B8, B25).

Eclipse:- Plumage mottled brown (B5, B25).

Juvenile Similar to female but greyer and body mottled (B1, B5, B25).

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Newly-hatched Characteristics

General: Upperparts pale olive brown; underparts including face yellow (B1, B6).
Bill: Dark grey (B6).
Feet: Dark grey (B6).

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Reproduction

Reproductive Season

Time of year Begin April/May/June (B1, B3, B25)
No. of Clutches Re-nest if nest destroyed or disturbed (B3).

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Nest placement and structure

In dense reedbeds at waterside or over water attached to reeds, mats of dry vegetation, with down lining (B1, B3, B6, B8, B25).

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Egg clutches

No. of Eggs Average 9 (B1); probably 7-8 (B3).
Range 7-16 (B8) Large clutches indicate parasitic nesting - dump-nests may contain more than 80 eggs (B1, B8).

N.B. Smaller clutches in years of drought. Commonly lay eggs in nests of other females and also of other species including Aythya valisineria - Canvasback (B8).

Egg Description White or pale buff to greenish (B3, B8); Size: 62x44mm; weight: 65g (B3).

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Incubation

24-28 days (B1); 23-29 days (B8).

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Hatching

Synchronous.

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Fledging

56-73 days (B1, B3); 55-75 days (B8).

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Sexual Maturity

Males --
Females One year old (B3)

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Behaviour

Feeding Behaviour

Adults Dive to feed, also dabble (B1, B6, B25).
Newly-hatched --

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Parental Behaviour

Nest-building --
Incubation By female; male often deserts during incubation (B3).
Newly-hatched Tended by female, some brood merging (B3, B8).
Juveniles

May be abandoned by three to five weeks old, and certainly by eight weeks old (B3, B8).

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Social Behaviour

Intra-specific Sociable; form large flocks during autumn migration (B3, B25).
Inter-specific Often mix with other Aythya species (B25); parasitise other species including Aythya valisineria - Canvasback (B8).

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Sexual Behaviour

Pairs formed midwinter onwards, peaking late spring; male often deserts during incubation but may remain even after hatching (B3, B6, B8, B25).

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Predation in Wild

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Activity Patterns

Spend daytime in large groups on open water (B8, B25).
Circadian Mainly feed early morning and evening, but also sometimes at night (B8, B25).

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Natural Diet

Adults

Basically vegetarian; seeds and green parts of aquatic plants, grasses, sedges, plus algae, tubers, grain, small invertebrates (grasshoppers, aquatic insect larvae, molluscs, crustaceans) (B1, B3, B8).

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Newly-hatched

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Range and Habitat

Distribution and Movement (Migration etc.)

Normal West, central and north-eastern North America: south-western Canada, western USA as far south as California, New Mexico, Nebraska. Also in Alaska, south-eastern Canada, Great Lakes area.

Migrates south to lowland: southern Canada, USA, Mexico, Central America as far as Guatemala, also Greater Antilles, Bahamas. (B1, B19)

Occasional and Accidental

Vagrant to Hawaii, Bermuda (B1, B19)

Introduced

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Habitat

Deep freshwater lakes, marshes, swamps, rivers, particularly with emergent vegetation in open country, including alkaline potholes; winters on freshwater lakes and marshes, tidal bays, brackish coastal lagoons and marshes (B1, B3, B8, B19)

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Conservation

Intraspecific variation

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Conservation Status

Wild Population -
(Importance)

Not globally threatened, although declined during 20th Century (B1, B8).

CITES listing --
Red-data book listing --
Threats Habitat loss, particularly draining of prairie marshes (B1, B8).

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Captive Populations

Common in collections (B8).

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Trade

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