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Friday, February 09, 2018

Friday's Foto

One of my favorite waterfowl, the Redhead is a medium-sized diving duck with a vibrant red-copper colored head and bright blue bill with a black tip. Similar to the Canvasback, they are smaller with a rounder head, smaller bill and a grayer back.

Feeding mainly on aquatic plants, their diet also includes mollusks, aquatic insects, and small fish.

Female Redheads are “brood parasites” and will lay their eggs in other species' nests. They use the nest of at least 10 species of waterfowl including American Wigeon, Canvasback, Gadwall, Mallard, Northern Pintail, Northern Shoveler and Ruddy Duck. There are also records of them laying their eggs in the nests of American Bittern and Northern Harrier!

Redheads breed in the northern prairies of the United States and Canada from Alaska south to Colorado and the intermountain marshes of the west and southwest. They overwinter across the southern United States from California to Florida and south into Mexico. Eastern populations will winter in South Carolina, although they are declining in the east. Estimates speculate that 80% of North America’s redhead population overwinter in the Laguna Madre lagoon of Texas and Mexico.

This species conservation status according to the IUCN Red List is “Least Concern”, due to their extremely large range and increasing population trends.

The etymology of it’s scientific name, Aythya americana, is Gr. aithuia unidentified seabird mentioned by Aristotle, Hesychius, and other authors, and America.

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