Belongs to: diving ducks

Ruddy duck Oxyura jamaicensis

Best time to see: all year

Key facts

Small dumpy duck with cocked stiff tail, introduced from N. America in the mid-1900s and now widespread across Europe

Breeds on freshwater lakes, ponds and reservoirs in Essex and some migrate to Spain in the winter

Inter-breeds with (and threatens) the native white-headed duck


Male: chestnut upperparts, white cheeks, black cap with blue bill in summer, black in winter; 38 cm

Female: dark brown cap, white face, black bill; brownish below

Swims and dives to feed on seeds and insect larvae


Nest is a floating mound of vegetation

One brood of 6–10 white eggs, May–June

© David Harrison

© Dick Daniels