The Redhead is a medium-sized diving duck that is also known as the Pochard. They are suitably named after theirbrightly colored heads. The drake has a distinct tri-colored blue-gray and white bill with a black tip. He has a red head and neck with yellow eyes and a black breast and rump, and a light gray back and sides. The hen has a reddish-brown head, neck, and chest, with a white belly and a brown body. Her bill is dull gray bill with a black tip.
Both the males and females have gray legs and feet. The drakes are larger than hens and are on average 18-22in in length with a weight range between 1½ -3 pounds. Their average wingspan extends 33in wide. The Redhead resembles the Canvasback, although Redheads are smaller with a rounder head and a shorter bill.
Redheads can be found nesting on marshy freshwater lakes, reservoirs, ponds, slow moving rivers and on other wetlands in prairie zones. During migration they gather on large lakes and they spend the winter on sheltered saltwater bays and estuaries and on some inland lakes.
Redheads breed primarily in the prairie pothole region and around the Great Lakes, although they can also be found in Alaska and Minnesota. They prefer prairie marshes and freshwater bodies of water with emerging vegetation. They begin their migration in September, during which time they often form flocks with other divers, and they winter throughout most of the south, in the Ozarks, along the Atlantic coast, in most western states, and in most of Mexico.
The meat of the Redhead is excellent eating quality. Its meat usually has a milder taste than that of other divers.
Redheads feed predominantly by diving or dabbling. They main food source is made up of leaves, stems, seeds and roots of aquatic plants aquatic plants with some mollusks. A variety of aquatic invertebrates are also eaten, especially in the summer.
Redheads usually seek out new mates each year and they begin to pair-up in late winter. The male courts the female prior to mating her. During his courtship displays hethrows his head back on his rump producing a catlike "meow" and he waits for the female to stretch her neck and “nod”her approval by moving her bill rapidly up and down while calling back to the male.
The construct a down-lined nest in tulles or reeds and the female lays 10-15 buff colored eggs. As soon as the female starts incubating the eggs, the male leaves her and departs south to join other males to molt. The males are unable to fly for almost a month after their molt.
Females often nest close together in dense marshes and it is common practice for them to parasitize each other’s nests or those of other species. Occasionally, dump nests occur that are untended and never incubated, but may have numerous eggs in them. The ducklings only fledge after 2 and half months of age.
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