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PRI's Environmental News Magazine

BirdNote®: Ruddy Duck

Air Date: Week of

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The Ruddy Duck’s bright blue bill is one of the distinguishing features of this colorful bird. (Photo: © Tom Grey)

In marshy lakes and ponds across North America, the spring breeding season may bring the colorful Ruddy Duck. With a black head, white face, and blue bill, the ducks stand out in a crowd but they may be best known for their creative courtships. BirdNote®’s Michael Stein has more.

Transcript

BASCOMB: In marshy lakes and ponds across North America, the spring breeding season may bring the colorful Ruddy Duck. With a black head, white face and blue bill the ducks stand out in a crowd but they may be best known for their creative courtships. BirdNote’s Michael Stein has more.

BirdNote®
Ruddy Duck
[Ruddy Duck bubbling display]

STEIN: This strange sound is a male Ruddy Duck, performing his bubbling display. 

[Ruddy Duck bubbling display]

When the sexes meet on the breeding grounds, usually a warm, weedy lake in the western interior, the males of these pudgy little ducks get right to strutting their stuff. 

[Ruddy Duck bubbling display]

When a female appears, the male raises his long tail and his head, with feathers on it that look like horns. He inflates his neck, and faster and faster, strikes his chest with his bill. These blows force air through the feathers, causing the water to bubble. The male’s display ends with his head and tail jerking forward, and a low belching sound. 

[Ruddy Duck bubbling display]


Male Ruddy Ducks show a bubbling display during the mating season to attract a partner. (Photo: © Tom Grey)

Whenever you hear this, watch for a bright rufous-red duck with black-and-white head and sky-blue bill. After the bubbling display, the male will usually run across the water with rapidly beating wings, his feet putt-putting like a little motorboat. 

[Ruddy duck display sounds]

Stay by the water, and you’ll hear this motorboat alternating with the bubbling display again and again. 

[Ruddy Duck bubbling display, then motor boating]

###

Written by Dennis Paulson
Audio of the Ruddy Duck display provided by The Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Recorded by G.A. Keller.
BirdNote's theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and produced by John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2015 Tune In to Nature.org                May 2017/2019 Narrator: Michael Stein
ID#        050707RUDUKPLU            RUDU-01b

https://www.birdnote.org/show/ruddy-duck

BASCOMB: For pictures, paddle on over to our website, loe dot org.

 

Links

National Audubon Society | “Ruddy Duck”

Learn more on the BirdNote® website

 

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