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Ruddy Duck

Clown of the marsh!

When male and female Ruddy Ducks meet on their breeding grounds, the male gets right to strutting his stuff. The male raises his tail and his head, until his feathers look like horns. He inflates his neck and, faster and faster, strikes his chest with his bill. These blows cause the water to bubble. The male then jerks his head and tail forward and emits a low belching sound.

Full Transcript

Ruddy Duck

Written by Dennis Paulson

This is BirdNote!

[Ruddy Duck bubbling display]

This strange sound is a male Ruddy Duck, performing his bubbling display. [Ruddy Duck bubbling display]

When the sexes meet on the breeding grounds, usually a warm, weedy lake in the western interior, the males of these pudgy little ducks get right to strutting their stuff. [Ruddy Duck bubbling display]

When a female appears, the male raises his long tail and his head, with feathers on it that look like horns. He inflates his neck, and faster and faster, strikes his chest with his bill. These blows force air through the feathers, causing the water to bubble. The male’s display ends with his head and tail jerking forward, and a low belching sound. [Ruddy Duck bubbling display]

Whenever you hear this, watch for a bright rufous-red duck with black-and-white head and sky-blue bill. After the bubbling display, the male will usually run across the water with rapidly beating wings, his feet putt-putting like a little motorboat. [Ruddy duck display sounds]

Stay by the water, and you’ll hear this motorboat alternating with the bubbling display again and again. [Ruddy Duck bubbling display, then motor boating]

You can watch a video of a Ruddy Duck’s courtship display, when you come to our website, I’m Michael Stein. 


Audio of the Ruddy Duck display provided by The Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Recorded by G.A. Keller.
BirdNote's theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and produced by John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2015 Tune In to                May 2017/2019 Narrator: Michael Stein

ID#        050707RUDUKPLU            RUDU-01b

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