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Common Name: Redhead
Scientific Name: Aythya americana

Size: 16.5-21.3 inches (42-54 cm); Wingspan: 29.5-31.1 inches (75-79 cm)

Habitat: North America; southern and north-eastern United States, the Great Lakes region, northern Mexico and the Caribbean.

The breeding habitat is marshes and prairie potholes in western North America.

Status: Least Concern. Global population: 400,000 to 800,000 individuals. A population up to 1,000,000 was determined in 2007, however has since then declined. Loss of nesting habitat has led to sharply declining populations.

Diet: Seeds, rhizomes, tubers of pondweeds, wild celery, water lilies, grasses and wild rice. They also feed on mollusks, aquatic insects and small fish. These birds feed mainly by diving or dabbling.

Nesting: The adult drake has a reddish head and upper neck with a black lower neck, fore back and breast. The remaining back is a dark grayish color. The hind back and tail are brownish-black. A broad band of light gray extends across the dusky gray wing and out onto the primaries, which helps distinguish it from the Scaup. The legs and feet are gray, and the bill is light blue-gray with a whitish band behind a relatively wide black tip.

The adult hen has a reddish-brown head, neck and breast, with a buff white chin and throat and an indistinct eye ring and stripe behind the eye. The flanks are warm brown, contrasting little with the breast, but with buffer fringes. The upper parts are darker and duller brown, with the upper-wing-coverts browner than on the male; otherwise the wing is similar to that of the male. The bill is duller than the male's, but similar in pattern.

The drake's distinctive call, a mewing weee-ooooo, is given during courtship.

Redheads breed in the northern prairies of the United States and Canada and the intermountain marshes of the west. They prefer non-forested environments with water areas sufficiently deep to provide permanent and fairly dense emergent vegetation for nesting. Female redheads lay an average of 7-10 eggs.

Cool Facts: Redhead hens regularly lay eggs in the nests of other Redheads or other ducks, especially Canvasbacks. They’ve been known to even lay eggs in the nests of the American Bittern and Northern Harrier. Most parasitically laid eggs fail to hatch.

Found in Songbird Remix Waterfowl Volume II: Diving and Sea Ducks

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