Redhead Diver Duck (Aythya americana)

Be taught in regards to the redhead diving duck life historical past, biology, habitat, conservation points, and extra.

The redhead duck (Aythya americana) is a placing member of the diving duck group. Whereas the drakes stand out for his or her appears to be like, hens stand out for his or her nesting preferences, laying eggs in nests of as much as 10 completely different species of geese and different birds too. Redheads are very social, and will be seen in wintering flocks that quantity within the tens of 1000’s on southern coastal waters.

Description and Life Historical past of the Redhead

The redhead often measures about 18 to twenty inches lengthy and weighs roughly 2 to three kilos (NatureServe 2020). Drakes in full breeding plumage are daring with cinnamon/red-colored heads and necks, vivid yellow eyes, darkish grey or black breasts and rear ends, and finely mottled grey sides. Their rounded heads sport a pale blue/grey, black-tipped invoice. Hens have uniform mild brown feathers with a pale blonde face, darkish eyes with a hoop of cream-colored feathers surrounding them, and an identical invoice as males. Whereas flying, a gray-colored speculum (wing stripe) extends from the physique out to the first feathers on the wing tip (All About Birds 2020). Non-breeding males in eclipse plumage are extra uniformly brown like hens, however their heads are nonetheless cinnamon-brown and their eyes are nonetheless yellow.

Breeding typically begins in April (within the southern a part of their breeding vary) and should proceed till June (in northern areas) (NatureServe 2020). Drakes carry out an attention-grabbing courtship ritual, typically bending their neck totally again so their heads contact their tails, after which snapping them ahead whereas making a cat-like name (All About Birds 2020). Hens construct nests inside dense vegetation (often bulrushes or cattails) in shallow marshes, and line them with down from their our bodies (Nationwide Audubon Society 2020). Redheads are infamous for laying eggs in different fowl’s nests – a observe known as brood parasitism. Along with laying them in different redhead nests, they’ve been recognized to put their eggs in as much as 10 different duck species (together with canvasbacks) and even non-duck species (Nationwide Audubon Society 2020). Hens often lay 7 to 14 cream- or buff-colored eggs and incubate them for 22 to 29 days (All About Birds 2020; Nationwide Audubon Society 2020). Nevertheless, they could additionally lay a number of further eggs within the nests of different species. The ducklings often are totally fledged by 10 to 12 weeks of age (NatureServe 2020).

Female redhead diving duck

Not like many different diving geese, redheads extra typically feed by dipping their head underwater or tipping as much as feed on vegetation and invertebrates (NatureServe 2020). Through the winter, they typically feed on plant seeds, rhizomes/tubers, and leaves of shoalgrass, pondweeds, wild celery, bulrushes, water lilies, and wild rice (Geese Limitless 2020; All About Birds 2020). However through the breeding season, females and younger typically eat extra invertebrates, together with snails, clams, mussels, caddisflies, midges, and mayflies (All About Birds 2020).

Whereas nest websites in-built dense emergent marshes are sometimes protected against most mammalian predators, there are nonetheless some threats. Frequent predators of eggs and ducklings embrace mink, raccoons, crows, gulls, snapping turtles, and northern pike.

Vary and Habitat of the Redhead

In North America, breeding redheads are a typical inhabitant of the prairie pothole area, however additionally they happen within the Intermountain West space and even as much as Alaska and northern Canada. They usually begin migrating northward to breeding areas by Might. They will spend their winters within the southern half of the U.S., however roughly 80 p.c of the North American inhabitants is assumed to winter within the Laguna Madre of Texas and Mexico alongside the Gulf Coast (Geese Limitless 2020).

The redhead spends its summer season breeding season principally in freshwater marshes, though it should additionally make the most of lakes, rivers, reservoirs, ponds, and bays (NatureServe 2020; All About Birds 2020). Throughout migration, many people collect in giant lakes (together with the Nice Lakes) and reservoirs. Through the winter, they kind spectacularly giant flocks in saltwater bays, lagoons, and coastal estuaries. Importantly, redheads make day by day journeys to freshwater inland wetlands to drink and cut back the excessive saline ranges ingested whereas consuming shoalgrass in coastal waters (NatureServe 2020; All About Birds 2020).

Male redhead diving duck

Conservation Points for the Redhead

The redhead is listed as globally safe and of Least Concern by the IUCN Crimson Listing (NatureServe 2020). The North American inhabitants was estimated at about 1.2 million birds as of 2015 (All About Birds 2020). As with most waterfowl species, loss or degradation of habitat on account of human growth, agriculture, and drought have all had a severe impact on the redhead. Whereas applications to reverse that pattern have been profitable, it should seemingly all the time proceed to be a menace. A discount in shoalgrass beds in overwintering areas can be a priority. It’s estimated that hunters harvested about 300,000 birds yearly in 2013 and 2014, which is comparatively small in comparison with the inhabitants dimension (All About Birds 2020). Different threats to the redhead embrace disturbance of nesting and wintering websites by people and collisions with energy strains and buildings (All About Birds 2020).

Searching Alternatives for the Redhead

Deliberately searching redheads will be attention-grabbing for these not used to it. Though they’re quick fliers and will be intimidating to shoot at, they decoy very simply on account of their pure flocking tendencies. Probably the greatest spots within the nation to hunt redheads is, maybe not surprisingly, alongside the Laguna Madre in Texas – this gives probably the greatest alternatives just because it attracts so many birds. Searching on this space on the proper time may produce wigeon or blue-winged teal for a pleasant mixed-bag hunt.

Gear and Bag Limits

You want all the regular duck searching gear to hunt redheads. Such staples embrace a searching license/federal duck stamp, a shotgun (12-gauge is the gold normal), non-toxic shotgun shells, waterfowl camouflage clothes (light-weight if searching in Texas), a blind or format boat, and quite a few decoys. Since redheads are so gregarious, giant decoy spreads work properly to draw flocks. Nevertheless, a smaller variety of decoys can work in the suitable situations and you don’t want redhead decoys solely to draw them. The present day by day bag restrict for redheads is 2 birds.

Redhead Duck Searching Methods

You’ll be able to hunt redheads from coastal shorelines, alongside freshwater ponds and lakes, or in open water settings from a ship. As talked about earlier, bigger decoy spreads have a greater probability of attracting flocks. You need to use related decoy techniques as that of the larger scaup by utilizing gang rig clips in your most important line to kind what appears to be like like a big raft of geese – that means, you may rapidly arrange within the morning. You may additionally think about working one lengthy line of decoys downwind of your blind location, which may information the geese into your touchdown zone. As typical, attempt to maintain your touchdown zone open to fit your taking pictures preferences – in entrance if searching from shore, on the left in the event you’re right-handed and within the water, and so on.

As a result of redheads typically decoy simply, there may be not as a lot of a necessity for calling. However you may entice spooky birds a little bit extra in two methods: you may make a “brrr” sound into a typical mallard name or use a name made particularly to mimic diving geese. With a little bit observe, you need to be capable to replicate these sounds and name some birds in.

Ryan Lisson is a biologist and common content material contributor to a number of out of doors producers, searching reveals, publications, and blogs. He’s an avid small sport, turkey, and whitetail hunter from northern Minnesota and loves managing habitat virtually as a lot as searching. Ryan can be enthusiastic about serving to different adults expertise the outside for his or her first time, which spurred him to launch Zero to Hunt, a web site dedicated to mentoring new hunters.

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