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Last updated on April 23, 2014 at 15:23 EDT

Redhead (duck)

The Redhead (Aythya americana) is a medium-sized diving duck.

The adult male has a blue bill, a red head and neck, a black breast, yellow eyes and a grey back. The adult female has a brown head and body and a darker bluish bill with a black tip.

Their breeding habitat can be found in marshes and prairie potholes throughout western North America. Loss of nesting habitat has led to sharply declining populations. Females regularly lay eggs in the nests of other Redheads or other ducks, especially Canvasbacks. Redheads usually take new mates each year, starting to pair in late winter.

Following the breeding season, males go through a molt which leaves them flightless for almost a month. Before this happens, they leave their mates and move to large bodies of water, usually flying further north.

They overwinter in the southern and north-eastern United States, the Great Lakes region, northern Mexico and the Caribbean.

This strong migrant is a very rare vagrant to western Europe.

These birds feed mainly by diving or dabbling. They mainly eat aquatic plants with some mollusks, aquatic insects and small fish.

Redhead duck