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North Carolina Wildlife Species Information

Canvasback - Aythya valisineria

Canvasback Aythya valisineria

Identification Tips:

  • Length: 15 inches Wingspan: 34 inches
  • Medium-sized diving duck
  • Long sloping forehead and peaked crown produce distinctive profile
  • Black bill
  • Immature female similar to adult female, immature male is similar to female in autumn, but acquires alternate plumage during winter

Adult male alternate:

  • Alternate plumage worn from fall through early summer
  • Red eye
  • Reddish head and neck
  • Black breast
  • Pale gray back and flanks
  • White belly
  • Black tail, upper- and undertail coverts

Adult male basic:

  • Duller than alternate plumage, especially about the breast and back

Adult female:

  • Brown eye
  • Brown head and neck
  • Pale gray back and flanks
  • White belly

Similar species:

Adult male Redhead is similar in alternate plumage to adult male Canvasback, but has yellow eye, blue bill with black tip, much grayer back and different profile. Female-plumage Redheads also have blue-gray bill with black tip, brownish body plumage without contrast between the head and body and a different profile.

Length and wingspan from: Robbins, C.S., Bruun, B., Zim, H.S., (1966). Birds of North America. New York: Western Publishing Company, Inc.

Above information used courtesy of United States Geological Survey.


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