North American Ruddy Duck
The North America Ruddy duck is the only member of the stifftail group native to North America where they are wide spread in areas west of the Mississippi. Like other stifftails, the North American Ruddy can be thought of as the underwater equivalent of the surface feeding Shoveler. This species an expert underwater swimmer and has the ability to submerge without diving and often uses this technique as a means of escape.
Like most others birds in the diving group ruddies can be changeling to keep and to raise in captivity. The Ruddy Duck is built for almost total aquatic life. With the exception of hens on a nest, we rarely see our birds out of the water. The Rudy is quite awkward on land, in captivity care should be taken that they are able to easily get in and out of their water and feed should be placed close to the water. These birds usually do better on a good sized pond, a small wading pool may not be adequate habitat for them.
North American Ruddy drakes do not acquire their pale blue bills and chestnut plumage until their second year. In eclipse the drakes are gray but retain the white face mask. (see photo to the right) Adult drakes are slow to regain their color, not gaining their alternate plumage until late winter.
The mating rituals of these birds are entertaining to watch, to impress his mate the drake will repeatedly drum its chest with his blue bill.
These birds do not breed until their second year. The female lays an egg that is very large in proportion to her body size. The rather small female ruddy will defend her nest quite ferociously , hens have been observed chasing away birds as large as swans that got to close to the ruddies nest.
Clutches consist of 6-10 eggs and are incubated for about 26 days. The ducklings can be very challenging to raise are in our opinion are the most difficult species we raise.
Because of the special housing and diet needs of this species, along with the difficultly of the young to raise, and the fact that they do not breed until 2 years of year, this is not a species that we would recommend for the beginner.