Family Ducks, Geese, Swans (Anatidae)

Least Concern

Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis)


French: Érismature rousse German: Schwarzkopf-Ruderente Spanish: Malvasía canela

Anas jamaicensis

J. F. Gmelin

, 1789,



Taxon ferruginea often considered a full species, as here (see that species); proposed race andina, intermediate between jamaicensis and ferruginea, here regarded as of hybrid origin#R#R. Population of North America has been assigned separate subspecies rubida, though doubtfully valid. Monotypic.


Breeds in W North America from Alaska and Canada (British Columbia E to Manitoba) S to Baja California and C Mexico; also scattered in NE from Canadian border in Great Lakes region to the Carolinas, E USA; West Indies. Winters from SW British Columbia through S USA S to El Salvador.

Escaped from captivity and became established in England, from where has spread to many other countries of Europe, N Africa and Middle East; eradication programme underway in some countries following interbreeding with globally threatened O. leucocephala.

Descriptive notes

35–43 cm; male 530–795 g, female 310–845 g; wingspan 53–62 cm. Small and dumpy, with short neck and broad, concave-ridged bill and prominent head.... read more


Both sexes generally silent outside breeding season, when bubbling display of male commences with... read more


Freshwater swamps, lakes, pools and marshes with emergent vegetation and areas of open water, but... read more

Food and feeding

Aquatic invertebrates (mainly insects and their larvae but also crustaceans, molluscs, worms) and seeds of aquatic plants. In California,... read more


Starts Apr/May in N of range, but broods observed throughout summer (mainly Jun–Aug, but until Sept–Oct) in Europe; apparently... read more


Partially migratory; North American breeders mostly depart breeding grounds to winter in S or near... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern).  North American population estimated at c. 600,000 breeding birds in mid 1970s and c. 500,000 at start of new millenium; up... read more

Recommended citation

Carboneras, C. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 21 February 2020).