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Bird of the Week: The Ruddy Duck

Okanogan Country | 07/15/2019 | Blog, Methow Valley, The Great Outdoors, Water Activities, Wildlife Viewing

"With a cinnamon body and bright blue bill, the male Ruddy Duck is one of our most noticeable and memorable ducks. But look closer and longer and you'll notice that their mannerisms and behavior are just as fascinating. Unlike many of our migratory duck species who might only be in Okanogan County 2-3 months, the Ruddys are generally here from early April through October. Look for these small, compact diving ducks on just about any pond or small lake. 

When the males arrive in the spring, their bills will have already turned sky blue from the dull gray hue they maintain when they aren't breeding. To attract a mate, they hold their short tails straight up in the air, and smack their bill against their thick inflated chest, making bubbles in the water and a quickening clicking or tapping sound that finishes with a final burp or fart sound. It really is quite funny to listen to and watch! Males will also chase other males away by running across the water with head down ready for battle.

Next time you see the duck with the blue bill, don't just remark on the beautiful bill, watch it and see how amazing this duck truly is."

Mary Kiesau | Local Naturalist and Photographer

Fun Facts

Information from the Seattle Audubon Society

  • The Ruddy Duck is Washington's only representative of the stiff-tail ducks, known for holding their spiky tails up in the air.
  • Like many small-winged ducks, Ruddy Ducks must get a running start across the water to become airborne.
  • Seeds and tubers from aquatic vegetation are a main staple of the Ruddy Duck's diet. Aquatic insect larvae are especially favored during the breeding season. 
  • The female incubates the eggs for 22 to 26 days.
  • Within a day after hatching, the young leave the nest and can swim and dive well. They are tended by the female, but feed themselves.

To learn more about the Ruddy Duck, Visit the Seattle Audubon Society

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