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Ruddy Duck - Oxyura jamaicensis
The Ruddy Duck is a small, chunky, thick-necked duck with a large head, broad bill (blue in the breeding male), and long tail that often is cocked upward. The male has conspicuous white cheeks, especially when breeding, and the female and young have a single dark line across the light cheeks. The breeding male has bright reddish-brown upperparts and the non-breeding males, females, and young are mostly grayish-brown. Ruddy Ducks lack a contrastingly colored speculum.
For a comprehensive review of the conservation status, habitat use, and ecology of this and other Montana bird species, please see Marks et al. 2016, Birds of Montana.
Ruddy Duck differs from the Masked Duck in that males have white cheeks instead of black and females have a single dark cheek stripe rather than two cheek stripes on each side; Ruddy Duck lacks the conspicuous white wing patches (visible in flight) of the Masked Duck.
Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations:
(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version)
Map Help and Descriptions
SUMMER (Feb 16 - Dec 14)
Direct Evidence of Breeding
Indirect Evidence of Breeding
No Evidence of Breeding
WINTER (Dec 15 - Feb 15)
Not Regularly Observed
(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)
The migration destination is unknown (west, east or Gulf coasts) (Skaar personal communication). Migration in the Bozeman area occurs April 15 to May 25 and September 15 to November 25 (Skaar 1969).
Breeding is usually on overgrown, shallow marshes with abundant emergent vegetation and some open water. Non-breeding birds are found on large, generally deeper waters with silty/muddy bottoms (Johnsgard 1986). During migration in the Bozeman area, birds prefer open lakes (Skaar 1969).
Ecological Systems Associated with this Species
- Details on Creation and Suggested Uses and Limitations
How Associations Were Made
We associated the use and habitat quality (common or occasional) of each of the 82 ecological systems mapped in Montana for
vertebrate animal species that regularly breed, overwinter, or migrate through the state by:
- Using personal observations and reviewing literature that summarize the breeding, overwintering, or migratory habitat requirements of each species (Dobkin 1992, Hart et al. 1998, Hutto and Young 1999, Maxell 2000, Foresman 2012, Adams 2003, and Werner et al. 2004);
- Evaluating structural characteristics and distribution of each ecological system relative to the species' range and habitat requirements;
- Examining the observation records for each species in the state-wide point observation database associated with each ecological system;
- Calculating the percentage of observations associated with each ecological system relative to the percent of Montana covered by each ecological system to get a measure of "observations versus availability of habitat".
Species that breed in Montana were only evaluated for breeding habitat use, species that only overwinter in Montana were only evaluated for overwintering habitat use, and species that only migrate through Montana were only evaluated for migratory habitat use.
In general, species were listed as associated with an ecological system if structural characteristics of used habitat documented in the literature were present in the ecological system or large numbers of point observations were associated with the ecological system.
However, species were not listed as associated with an ecological system if there was no support in the literature for use of structural characteristics in an ecological system, even if
point observations were associated with that system.
Common versus occasional association with an ecological system was assigned based on the degree to which the structural characteristics of an ecological system matched the preferred structural habitat characteristics for each species as represented in scientific literature.
The percentage of observations associated with each ecological system relative to the percent of Montana covered by each ecological system was also used to guide assignment of common versus occasional association.
If you have any questions or comments on species associations with ecological systems, please contact the Montana Natural Heritage Program's Senior Zoologist.
Suggested Uses and Limitations
Species associations with ecological systems should be used to generate potential lists of species that may occupy broader landscapes for the purposes of landscape-level planning.
These potential lists of species should not be used in place of documented occurrences of species (this information can be requested at: mtnhp.org/requests
) or systematic surveys for species and evaluations of habitat at a local site level by trained biologists.
Users of this information should be aware that the land cover data used to generate species associations is based on imagery from the late 1990s and early 2000s and was only intended to be used at broader landscape scales.
Land cover mapping accuracy is particularly problematic when the systems occur as small patches or where the land cover types have been altered over the past decade.
Thus, particular caution should be used when using the associations in assessments of smaller areas (e.g., evaluations of public land survey sections).
Finally, although a species may be associated with a particular ecological system within its known geographic range, portions of that ecological system may occur outside of the species' known geographic range.
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- Foresman, K.R. 2012. Mammals of Montana. Second edition. Mountain Press Publishing, Missoula, Montana. 429 pp.
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- Hutto, R.L. and J.S. Young. 1999. Habitat relationships of landbirds in the Northern Region, USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station RMRS-GTR-32. 72 p.
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- Werner, J.K., B.A. Maxell, P. Hendricks, and D. Flath. 2004. Amphibians and reptiles of Montana. Missoula, MT: Mountain Press Publishing Company. 262 p.
Takes primarily aquatic insects, crustaceans, zooplankton, and other invertebrates. Typically consumes small amount of aquatic vegetation and seeds. Forage almost exclusively by diving but occasionally forage by "skimming" water surface, straining food from water (Brua 2002).
At Freezeout Lake, hatching dates were from July 21 to August 20. Near Fortine, egg dates range from June 12 to July 1. Brood size averages 8 on a statewide basis; nesting records are from June well into August.
- Literature Cited AboveLegend: View Online Publication
- Brua, R. B. 2002. Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis). In The birds of North America, No. 696 (A. Poole and F. Gill, Eds.). Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia and American Ornithologists’ Union.
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- Additional ReferencesLegend: View Online Publication
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- Johnsgard, P.A. 1979. Birds of the Great Plains: breeding species and their distribution. University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln. 539 pp.
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