Belongs to: ducks

Ruddy duck Oxyura jamaicensis

Best time to see: all year

Key facts

Small dumpy duck with cocked stiff tail, introduced from N. America in the mid-1900s and now widespread across Europe

Breeds on freshwater lakes, ponds and reservoirs in Essex and some migrate to Spain in the winter

Inter-breeds with (and therefore threatens) the native and closely related white-headed duck


Male, chestnut upperparts, white cheeks, black cap with blue bill in summer, black in winter; 38 cm

Female black above with white face, pale below

Swims and dives to feed on seeds and insect larvae


Nest is a floating mound of vegetation

One brood of 6–10 white eggs, May–June

  • Main photo

Photo © David Harrison