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North Carolina Wildlife Species Information

Redhead - Aythya americana

Redhead Aythya americana

Identification Tips:

  • Length: 14.5 inches Wingspan: 33 inches
  • Medium-sized diving duck
  • Smoothly rounded head
  • Dark wing with grayish secondaries
  • 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
  • Eclipse-plumage male duller than in alternate plumage, especially about the breast and
  • Blue bill with white ring before black tip
  • Yellow eyes
  • Reddish head and neck
  • Black breast
  • Grayish back and flanks
  • Black tail, upper- and under-tail coverts
  • Whitish belly

Adult male basic:

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

Adult female:

  • Brown eyes
  • Dark blue-gray bill with black tip
  • Brown head and body plumage
  • Whitish belly

Similar species:

Adult male Redhead in alternate plumage easily is distinguished from Canvasback by yellow eye, blue bill with black tip, gray back and different profile. Females distinguished from female Canvasback by brown body plumage and blue bill with black tip. Females can be distinguished from female Ring-necked Duck by smoothly rounded crown, dark cap and darker brown plumage.

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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