While looking back at photographs of birds we took from different states this past summer , I ran across this picture of the Ruddy Duck that we saw back in May while birding in south Texas. The Ruddy Duck is a compact thick necked duck with a beautiful array of contrasting colors. The colors of sky blue, cinnamon, black and white are bold, shining and gleaming in a cartoonish type way. They have large, flat bills, small wings, and feet set far back on the body. Ruddy Ducks have stiff tails with spiky feathers which are very distinct when displayed cocked up.
On this day we were able to see not one but four Ruddy Ducks two males and two females. The males appeared to be doing courtship rituals on a small section of water surrounded by tall reeds in Port Aransas Texas. The males court the females by beating their bills against their breast creating a swirl of bubbles in the water. During the time we watched them were able to see several other poses of the little ducks with tails cocked, necks withdrawn and extended.
They nest next to lakes, ponds and often gather in coastal estuaries. Ruddy Ducks dive to feed on seeds and roots of aquatic plants, aquatic insects and crustaceans. If you are looking for Ruddy Ducks a good time to look is from fall through spring in open water. They tend to sleep during the day with their heads tucked. This Duck can be found from British Columbia to California, southern New Mexico and southern Texas.