Redhead Duck (Aythya americana)

Common Name: Redhead

Scientific Name: Aythya americana
SizeDietRange in HawaiiStatus in Hawaii
20 in.seeds, grains, and aquatic plantsOahu, Kauai, or Big Islandleast concern

The Redhead (Aythya americana) is a medium-sized diving duck that is native to North America. It is a beautiful and striking bird, with a distinctive red head and a sleek, streamlined body. The Redhead is a popular game bird and is prized by hunters for its delicious meat and challenging hunting habits.



Redhead resting in grass
Redhead resting in grass

The male Redhead has a bright red head and neck, which gives it its name. It has a dark brown back, wings, and tail, and a white breast and belly.

It has a long, pointed bill that is blue-gray in color, and dark brown legs and feet. The male Redhead also has a distinctive white patch on its wings that is visible when it is in flight.

The female Redhead is less colorful than the male and has a brown head and neck, with a lighter brown body and a white breast and belly. It has a dark brown bill, legs, and feet, and a white patch on its wings. The female Redhead is generally smaller than the male and has a more subdued appearance.


The Redhead is a diving duck, which means that it feeds by diving underwater in search of food. It is an agile and skilled diver, and is able to swim and dive to depths of up to 15 meters (50 feet) in search of food. It is also an active forager and will feed on a variety of seeds, grains, and aquatic plants that it finds on the surface of the water or on the shore.

The Redhead is an opportunistic feeder and will take advantage of any available food source. In addition to seeds, grains, and aquatic plants, it is also known to feed on small aquatic animals, such as insects, snails, worms, and crustaceans. It is able to locate and capture these small prey items by using its sharp, pointed bill to dig through the mud and sediment at the bottom of ponds and lakes.


The Redheads are highly social and active bird that is known for its graceful swimming and diving abilities. During the breeding season, the Redhead performs a courtship display in which the male and female birds dance and sing together. The male may also present the female with food as a way of wooing her.


The Redhead nest is a simple structure made of twigs and leaves, and is often located on the ground near the water. The female Redhead builds the nest and incubates the eggs, while the male guards the nest and defends the territory from other birds. The eggs are incubated for about 26-29 days, after which the chicks hatch.

Once the chicks hatch, both parents help to feed and care for them until they fledge, or learn to fly. The chicks are born with a coat of down, which helps to keep them warm, and they are able to swim and dive soon after hatching.

The parents feed the chicks by bringing them food in their bills, and the chicks begin to forage on their own when they are about 2-3 weeks old. The chicks fledge, or learn to fly, when they are about 8-10 weeks old.

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Redhead swimming
Redhead swimming

The Redhead is generally found in wetland habitats, such as marshes, swamps, and shallow lakes and ponds. It is a highly adaptable bird and is able to thrive in a variety of wetland habitats, including freshwater and saltwater marshes, shallow lakes and ponds, and estuaries. It is also found in agricultural areas, such as rice fields and irrigation ponds, where it feeds on seeds, grains, and aquatic plants.


In Hawaii, the Redhead Duck is a rare visitor to the islands, and it is not a common species in the state. If a Redhead Duck does occur in Hawaii, it is most likely to be found on one of the main islands, such as Oahu, Kauai, or Hawaii Island.

Conservation Status

The redhead is not considered to be globally threatened, and it is not listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. However, like many other duck species, it may be affected by habitat loss, pollution, and other human activities.

Interesting Facts

1. They are strong flyer

The Redhead is a strong flyer and is known for its fast, direct flight. It has a wingspan of about 32 inches (81 cm) and is capable of flying at speeds of up to 50 mph (80 km/h).

2. They are cavity nester

The Redhead is a cavity nester, which means that it builds its nest in a hole or crevice. It typically nests in trees or on cliffs near water, and it lays a clutch of 8 to 12 eggs.

3. They are strong and agile swimmer

The Redhead is a strong and agile swimmer, and it is known for its ability to swim and dive quickly and efficiently. It uses its strong legs and webbed feet to propel itself through the water and can stay underwater for up to a minute at a time.

4. Popular game bird

The Redhead is a popular game bird and is often hunted for sport. It is known for its strong, flavorful meat and is considered to be one of the best-tasting ducks.

Frequently Asked Questions:

How does the Redhead communicate?

The Redhead is known for its distinctive, high-pitched whistling call, which is often heard during flight.

What does the Redhead eat?

The Redhead feeds on aquatic plants, seeds, and invertebrates, which it catches by diving underwater to search for food. It is known for its ability to forage in deep water and is a skilled swimmer and diver.

What is the lifespan of the Redhead?

The lifespan of the Redhead is not well-studied, but it is thought to be similar to that of other ducks, which is typically around 5 to 10 years in the wild. In captivity, Redheads may live longer, with some individuals living for up to 20 years or more.