Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis)

Ruddy Duck


The ruddy duck (Oxyura jamaicensis) is a duck from North America and one of the stiff-tailed ducks. The genus name is derived from Ancient Greek oxus, "sharp", and oura, "tail", and jamaicensis is "from Jamaica".

Distribution And Habitat

The Ruddy Duck occurs from northern North America down to Central America and northern South America (Oberle 2018), and it is a common resident on New Providence in The Bahamas and the Greater Antilles (Raffaele and others 1998). The resident West Indian subspecies (O.fij.fijamaicensis) has declined in The Bahamas, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands to the point of being threatened (Raffaele and others 1998). In Puerto Rico, it can be seen in the Humacao Natural Reserve, Caño Tiburones Natural Reserve, and the Serrallés Lakes near Ponce (Oberle 2018). In Vieques, it is a rare breeding resident in spring, and it is extremely rare in winter and summer (Gemmill 2015). Habitat includes open freshwater bodies such as lakes, lagoons, and alkaline marshes, as well as saline wetlands and mangrove edges adjacent to water (Bond 1961, Raffaele and others 1998). The atlas fieldwork yielded a total of 77 records within 35 hexagons or 7 percent of the 479 total hexagons (see map). Of the 35 hexagons where this species was found, breeding met the atlas definition of confirmed in 17 percent (6) of the hexagons, probable in 54 percent (19), and possible in 26 percent (9), while the species was observed in 3 percent (1) of the hexagons but without evidence of breeding (see map). Ruddy Duck distribution. The map shows the highest breeding code by hexagon and overlaying the ecological life zones in Puerto Rico. Note: percentages may not total 100 due to rounding. 35Ruddy Duck/Pato Chorizo

Ruddy Duck Distribution

Breeding Habits

Previously published reports indicate that the Ruddy Duck breeds primarily from June to August (Raffaele and others 1998), although breeding seasons in the southwest may not be synchronized with breeding seasons in the northeast part of Puerto Rico (H. Raffaele, personal communication 2019). The nest is built over water in swamp vegetation (Raffaele and others 1998). Atlas results suggest that this species breeds throughout the year with the most breeding activity from March to June and a peak during May and June (see chart). Results show that this species mostly breeds in the lowlands within the subtropical moist forest life zone (68 percent of the hexagons) (see table and chart). However, results indicate that it also breeds within the subtropical dry forest life zone (29 percent of the hexagons) (see table and map).


The current population trend for the Ruddy Duck is described as decreasing (Wetlands International 2012). However, this species is currently listed as a species of least concern by the IUCN (BirdLife International 2016). In Puerto Rico, the Ruddy Duck is classified as vulnerable (PRDNER 2016) and has a protected habitat in land of 16 percent or 127 km2 of the total area covered by the hexagons where evidence of breeding was found for this species (813 km2).