Harteman Wildfowl, presented by Jan Harteman

Redhead

Aythya americana

Roodkopeend / Rotkopfente / Milouin d'Amérique

 

The redhead (Aythya americana) is a medium-sized diving duck, 37 cm (15 in) long with an 84 cm (33 in) wingspan.

The adult drake has a blue bill, a red head and neck, a black breast, and yellow eyes. The adult hen has a brown head and body and a darker bluish bill with a black tip. The drake's distinctive call, a mewing weee-ooooo, is given during courtship.

The breeding habitat is marshes and prairie potholes in western North America. Loss of nesting habitat has led to sharply declining populations. Hens regularly lay eggs in the nests of other redheads or other ducks, especially Canvasbacks. Redheads usually take new mates each year, starting to pair in late winter.

Following the breeding season, drakes go through a molt which leaves them flightless for almost a month. Before this happens, they leave their mates and move to large bodies of water, usually flying further north.

They overwinter in the southern and northeastern United States, the Great Lakes region, northern Mexico and the Caribbean.

This strong migrant is a very rare vagrant to western Europe.

 

This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be increasing, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern (IUCN, 2012).

 

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Above: adult drake Redhead

 

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Above: adult drake Redhead

 

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Above: adult drake Redhead

 

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Above: adult drake Redhead, summer (eclipse) plumage

 

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Above: adult female Redhead

 

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Above: two adult female Redheads

 

Above: footage of captive Redhead females

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