Birds of Seabrook Island

COAST BIRDS
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ANECDOTES

  Ruddy Duck
 
 

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  Order Anseriformes - Waterfowl
   Family Anatidae - Ducks, Geese, and Swans
      Subfamily Anatinae - True Ducks
         Tribe Oxyurini - Stiff-tailed Ducks
  Waterfowl vary in size - from teal to swans. They all have webbed feet and dense, waterproof plumage. Most nest on the ground and the nest is lined with down plucked by the female from her breast. Except for two small groups not found in North America, all belong to one (or two) families.
Ducks, Geese, and Swans are waterfowl with their bill finely serrated or grooved on the edge. Their tongue is fleshy. Their front toes are webbed. Males have a functional penis. They are strong fliers and many migrate long distances. 
True Ducks are sexually dimorphic. The female incubates and cares for the young - the male usually deserts early. Ducks undergo a simultaneous molt of their flight feathers and are flightless until the flight feathers of the alternate plumage regrow. Thus, males wear their nuptial plumage on the winter grounds where pair formation occurs in most species. 
Stiff-tailed Ducks are active swimmers and foot-propelled divers with a long, spiky tail.
     
     
  Ruddy Duck, Oxyura jamaicensis
 
    Cornell     USGS     Wiki     ToL     EoL
        WINTER - Uncommon / Rare
            PONDS, ESTUARIES, BAYS IMPOUNDMENTS (fresh or brackish)
MORE PICTURES
 
   The Ruddy Duck is small with a large head and long tail. The bill is relatively short, broad, and sloped. Adult males have a blue bill with a dark cap and prominent white cheeks. Females are dull with a dark line across their cheek. They are active and are often found in small flocks. The tail is often raised as they swim and feed.
Ruddy Duck
     
Male Ruddy Duck. Monterey Bay Aquarium
   
  RANGE: Ruddys breed in the Great Basin north into Canada and winter broadly on all of our coasts, ranging south to Central America and the Bahamas.
  BREEDING: Monogamous. One brood (2 in the south). Female builds a nest in tall emergent vegetation. It is lined with fine materials. She lays ~8 (5-10) eggs and incubates for 23-26 days. They may lay eggs in each other's nests or those of other ducks and marsh birds. The male deserts during incubation. Development is precocial. Young leave the nest in a day or so and are tended by the female. They can fly after 42-48 days. Young dive soon after hatching but are helpless on land.
   Ruddy Ducks regularly engage in brood parasitism, often laying their eggs in the nests of other ducks, grebes, and rails.
  DIET: Ruddy Ducks feed on seeds, roots and insects. Also mollusks, crustaceans and small fish. Insects may their major food in summer. They forage by diving and swimming underwater using their webbed feet. They strain their food from soft bottom mud. They may also dabble at the surface.
  VOICE: Female gives a low nasal call and a high sharp squeak. The male is usually silent.
  NOTES:
   Checklists -
      Seabrook. Kiawah - uncommon winter.
      Coastal - fairly common (local) winter visitor. Hilton Head - fairly common winter visitor.
         Cape Romain - occasional/rare (breeds)/common/common.
         Huntington Beach
- uncommon October; common November - February; uncommon March - April.
      ACE - rare/absent/rare/occasional.
   CBC: ACE 5, 0, 126, 173, 47, 170, 28, 905; Charleston 900, 608, 1636, 24, 255, 7, 52, 92;
            St. Helena/Fripp x, x, x, x, x, x, 0, 4; Hilton Head 1, 0, 13, 7, 17, 7, 2, 91; Sun City/Okatie 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 4, 2;
            McClellanville 18, 985, 812, 33, nc, 1031, 1106, 1136; Winyah Bay x, x, 504, 432, 397, 193, 10, 2221;
                Litchfield/Pawley's 0, 22, 55, 1, 4, CW, 150, 119.
   P&G: Common winter visitor. Dates 5 October - 1 May. Casual breeder (Bulls Island, Bear Island, Magnolia Gardens. Maximum 1002, Awendaw/Cape Romain area, 27 December 1970.
Avendex:  3 coastal records (January, May, July).
   Potter: A common winter resident from October to May. They are often found in large rafts in our estuaries. There is evidence of breeding from Colleton and Charleston Counties in South Carolina.
  ●  Rare. I have not seen Ruddy Ducks on Seabrook but they are on our list.  One was recorded during the North American Migration Count in May, 1999. They are found in impoundments at Huntington Beach State Park in small numbers and probably in other ponds and bays along the coast. Look for them at Freshfields and on open waters on the island. 
       
    Banner - Ruddy Duck (male). Monterey Bay Aquarium, CA.
       
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