Kingdoms / Animalia / Craniata / Aves / Anseriformes / Anatidae / Oxyura / Species
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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)

Butterball
Stifftail
Schwarzkopf-Ruderente (German)
Erismature rousse (French)
Erismature à joues blanches (French)
Pato rojo americano (Spanish)
Malvasía canela (Spanish)
Oxyura jamaicensis jamaicensis North American ruddy duck
Oxyura jamaicensis andina Colombian ruddy duck

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, B6, B8, B19, B25, B26

Other references:
B38

Aviculture references:
J23.13.w8
B29, B31, B30, B40, B94, B96, B97, B108, B128.w2, B129
D1, D8

ORGANISATIONS
(UK Contacts)

ELECTRONIC LIBRARY
(Further Reading)
Click image for full contents list of ELECTRONIC LIBRARY

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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:
  • Stiff-tails are generally hardy. They are extremely aquatic and do best on large ponds of variable depth, with clean, deep water and plenty of natural food available in the form of marginal aquatic plants, while a muddy pond bottom will provide food items such as tubifex worms. Duckweed and small-sized seeds such as millet and canary seed mixtures are preferred to conventional waterfowl feeds, although wheat and pellets will be taken if natural food is scarce, for example in hard winter weather. Ample marginal vegetation (e.g. rushes, sedge, juncus reed) should be available for general cover and for nesting, with nesting rafts also provided.
  • Most species are sociable and do best in groups rather than as a single pair; males will fight, but usually for only a short period, some degree of pursuit and rape of ducks is also likely. They can be very aggressive in nest site defence, therefore in mixed collections they should be kept on a water area sufficiently large for other ducks to escape.
  • Stiff-tail ducklings should preferably be reared with access to water from e.g. two days old, with sufficient depth for diving provided even at an early age, although enforced drying off periods between short swims may be advisable initially. Duckweed is a useful starter food for these species, although attached daphnia and water snails may carry parasites.

(J23.13.w8, B29, B30, B40, B94).

Species-specific information:

  • Ruddy ducks are hardy, but access to ice-free water should be ensured in winter. They are not difficult to keep, but do need deep (preferably 50% of water area over 1m deep) clean water. Pools with natural bankside vegetation are preferred, with feeding and nesting areas available close to water. They may be kept in mixed collections and in groups, if a sufficient area is available. They may be fed grain on the water (small grains preferred) also pellets, green food, grass, bread, additional animal matter and aquatic plants.
  • These ducks are fairly easy to breed. They nest in rushy cover in bankside vegetation, also in ground level nest boxes and on rafts/ floating vegetation. They may begin laying in May (B31); usually lay April to May (B29), and may lay a second clutch. They are best parent incubated and reared on mature ponds, although in large enclosures it may be very difficult to catch the ducklings to pinion them (this may be possible before they leave the nest at a day old). If the ducklings are hand reared, water must be provided for swimming and diving from an early age; normal rearing food may be fed.

(B29, B31, B40, B94, B96, B97, B108, B128.w2, B129, D1)

Aviornis UK Ringing Scheme recommended average closed ring size: J 9.0mm (D8).

Individual Techniques linked in Wildpro

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External Appearance (Morphology)

Measurement & Weight

Length 14-17 inches (B25).
Adult weight General  
Male Average 550 g, maximum 815g (B3); mean 610g (B25); mean 1.3lb (B8).
Female Average 500g, maximum 794g (B3); mean 510g (B25) mean 1.1lb (B8).
Newly-hatched weight --
Growth rate --

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Head

Adult Bill Male Bright blue in breeding male.
Variations (If present) Grey
Eyes (Iris) Male Brown
Variations(If present) --
Juvenile Bill Grey
Eyes (Iris) Brown

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Legs

Adult Male Grey.
Variations (If present)  
Juvenile Grey.

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Plumage

Adult Male Head and hindneck black, with face from below eyes, chin and throat white.

Lower neck, breast and underparts ruddy-brown, shading to whitish on abdomen and undertail coverts.

Upperparts ruddy-brown, wing blackish-brown, tail blackish.

Variations (If present) Female: dorsal head to eye level dark brown, sides of head whitish with dark horizontal line below eyes. Upperparts dark brown, wing dark brown, underparts dull brown with buff markings, central abdomen whitish. Reddish-brown in summer.

Eclipse male: Similar to female but head clearly divided as before, dark brown rather than black dorsal head.

Juvenile Similar to female but duller; cheek stripe less distinct.

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Newly-hatched Characteristics

General: Upperparts black with white spot either side on back; central abdomen white; Face marked with white line below eye, black line below than, then white area.
Bill: Dark grey
Feet: Dark grey

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Reproduction

Reproductive Season

Time of year Begin April/May in the north, may breed most of year in Columbia.
No. of Clutches --

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Nest placement and structure

Basket-like construction of vegetation, concealed in dense emergent vegetation. Also use old nests of coots or ducks, or muskrat lodges (B8).

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Egg clutches

No. of Eggs Average 6-10, but sometimes dump-clutches of up to 80 eggs may be found (B1, B8).
Range 5-15 (B1).
Egg Description White, 62 x 46mm, 73g (B3).

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Incubation

25-25 days (B1); 20-26 days (mean 23-24 days) (B8).

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Hatching

Synchronous.

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Fledging

50-55 days (B1); 52-66 days (B8).

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Sexual Maturity

Males Usually at two years old, occasionally at one year old.
Females Usually at two years old, occasionally at one year old.

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Behaviour

Feeding Behaviour

Adults Dive to sieve bottom, also dabble.
Newly-hatched Dive only when female dives for first two weeks.

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Parental Behaviour

Nest-building --
Incubation By female alone.
Newly-hatched Female is main carer but some males will assist in defence.
Juveniles

From three weeks old ducklings are foraging independently.

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Social Behaviour

Intra-specific Both males and females are belligerent but females are not hostile to strange ducklings. Gather in flocks to moult.
Inter-specific --

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Sexual Behaviour

Males often leave mate to court other females during incubation, but may return later.

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Predation in Wild

--

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Activity Patterns

--
Circadian --

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Natural Diet

Adults

Approximately 70/30 vegetation/animal matter. Pondweeds, sedges, tubers and seeds. Invertebrates particularly midges and caddis flies also other insects, molluscs and crustaceans.

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Newly-hatched

--

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Range and Habitat

Distribution and Movement (Migration etc.)

Normal
  • Oxyura jamaicensis jamaicensis North American ruddy duck. North America, from British Columbia to Manitoba in Canada, south to California and Texas, scattered in north-eastern USA, and West Indies.
    • Mainly migratory, with northern populations moving south for the winter.

  • Oxyura jamaicensis andina Colombian ruddy duck. Andes of central and northern Colombia. Sedentary.

Occasional and Accidental

--

Introduced

Feral population established in England (B38). Spreading from Britain across Europe and reaching Morocco, Israel, Turkey and Ukraine (B8).

London: In the London Area, "widespread winter visitor of feral origin, localised breeder." At least 12 pairs bred in 2000. The locations with the most birds were Hilfield Park Reservoir (more than 300 during the winter, Broadwater Lake (more than 100) and Staines Resrvoir (more than 100); in Inner London occasional birds were seen in St. James's Park. (J322.65.w1)

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Habitat

Freshwater lakes, pools, swamps, marshes, with open water and emergent vegetation. Large ice-free lakes, brackish lagoons and estuaries out of the breeding season

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Conservation

Intraspecific variation

Oxyura jamaicensis jamaicensis North American ruddy duck
Oxyura jamaicensis andina Colombian ruddy duck

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Conservation Status

Wild Population -
(Importance)

Not threatened, locally common. Oxyura jamaicensis andina is scarce and declining and is considered endangered (B1, B8).

Feral British population is expanding and may be a threat to the Spanish population of Oxyura leucocephala - White-headed duck, due to interbreeding.

General Legislation
  • This species is listed on Schedule 9 - Part 1 (Animals and plants to which Section 14 applies (ie. may not be released into or grown in the wild) ) of the LUK2 - Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 of the United Kingdom. (W5.Oct01)
CITES listing Listing not yet included.
Red-data book listing Listing not yet included.
Threats Oxyura jamaicensis andina is threatened by loss of habitat (B44.9.w1).

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Captive Populations

Oxyura jamaicensis jamaicensis is common in collections, easy to keep and breed (B8). Oxyura jamaicensis andina is not present in collections (B44.9.w1).

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Trade

--

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