Female and Male Redhead.

In the six plus years that I’ve been here at the Museum I’ve never seen a Redhead in the Wetlands. There were four redheads swimming, diving, preening, and resting in our little quarry of a wetland on Wednesday morning (2/19/14).

Redheads are diving ducks. They feed by diving under the water to retrieve submergent plants, mollusks, aquatic insects, and even small fish. Redheads spend the summer on the northern prairies and intermountain regions of the North American West where they nest along lakes, ponds and sloughs. In winter they move south and east, most spending the winter on the intertidal zone (bays) of the coastal states, including the East Coast and Gulf of Mexico. Lesser numbers winter on interior ponds and lakes.

The name Redhead needs little explanation, but there are other ducks in North America that have red heads. Both the Canvasback and Common Pochard have red heads. Canvasbacks share much of the Redhead’s range but are larger and have a much more sloping forehead, among other differences. The pochard would be more easily mistaken for the Redhead except that it’s a Eurasian species and has only rarely been seen in North America in the Aleutians and in Southeastern Alaska and Southern California.

Then, there’s the Cinnamon Teal. It also has a reddish head. But, you’d have a difficult time mistaking a Redhead for a Cinnamon Teal, the teal’s entire body is cinnamon red.

So, with all of that information neatly stowed away, here’s some more photos of the birds.

The other pair.
The redheads were a bit nervous early in the day. The path through the Wetlands can be busy with human traffic.
The two pair of ducks with yellow-bellied sliders in the background.
The ducks stayed in the center of the open water the entire day.
The two males.
Diving for food.
There’s no denying the appeal of these ducks.
By mid afternoon the ducks felt comfortable enough to nap.
Late afternoon parting shot.

When I arrived the next morning, the ducks were gone.

5 responses to Redheads

  1. Judy Overby says:

    Fantastic shots Greg! I’d really like a chance to “shoot” the Redheads. I had a problem determining the Redheads from the Pochards at Sylvan Bird Park.

    • Greg Dodge says:

      Thank you both.
      Although the two pair were gone the next day (Thursday 4/20), a single female was present today. I didn’t see it in the morning but only after the heavy storms that went through around mid day. That’s what may have brought in the original redheads, dropping in during rain storms.
      Thanks again.

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