Oxyura Jamaicensis – Ruddy Duck

Oxyura Jamaicensis – Ruddy Duck found in the US

The ruddy duck (Oxyura jamaicensis) is a North American bird that is a member of the stiff-tailed duck family. The genus name derives from the Ancient Greek oxus, which means “sharp,” and oura, which means “tail,” while jamaicensis means “from Jamaica.”

Quick Overview: Oxyura Jamaicensis – Ruddy Duck
Body size: Around 14-16 in (36-41 cm) and a weight of 795 g (28.04 oz)
Main colors: Red-Brown, White, Black, Blue, Gray-Brown, Gray
Range: Throughout the United States
Migratory Bird: Yes
Best time of the year to see in the U.S.: All Year (January – December)
Conservation Status: Least Concern

Ruddy Duck Description

This little, brilliant red-brown duck is distinguished by a black cap that extends below the eyes to the nape, a large blue bill, and a black tail. Certain males have an all-black head devoid of white cheek patches. Females have a gray-brown neck and body, a dull buff-brown head and neck sides, and a pale-gray cheek patch with a stripe across it.

Oxyura Jamaicensis – Ruddy Duck found in the US
Oxyura Jamaicensis – Ruddy Duck. Source: Wikipedia


These birds have a length of 14-16 in (36-41 cm) and a weight of 795 g (28.04 oz). Their wings could range from 21-24 in (53-61 cm).


They prey mostly on water plants’ seeds and roots, as well as aquatic insects and crustaceans.


Ruddy ducks breed on permanent freshwater marshes, lakes, and ponds. These pools are densely vegetated, providing cover for these ducks’ nests. Ruddy ducks like shallow wetlands and coastal bays throughout the winter.


Due to the arrangement of their legs on their bodies, ruddy ducks are ungainly on land. Their legs are positioned far back on their bodies, making walking difficult. However, their anatomy enables them to be extremely swift and nimble in water. They may easily dive or plunge into the sea. These ducks dive roughly a meter below the surface with a single powerful stroke of their feet until they reach the substrate, where they seek for food. The feet paddle synchronously while diving, and the wings remain closed. 

Oxyura Jamaicensis Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Anseriformes
  • Family: Anatidae
  • Genus: Oxyura
  • Species: Ozyura jamaicensis

Best time of the year to see

In the United States, the best time of year to see these birds is all year round, regardless of the season. This refers to any month of the year between January and December.

Distribution of the Ruddy Duck in the USA

Breeds from British Columbia, the Mackenzie region, and Quebec south to California, southern New Mexico, and southern Texas, with some breeding further east. Winters along the northern shores of British Columbia and Massachusetts, as well as inland as far as Missouri.

The Ruddy Duck can be found in the following states in the United States – Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Oxyura Jamaicensis – Ruddy Duck

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