redhead duck

Redhead Duck

Aythya americana


The Redhead is a medium sized duck that is known for the male's bright red head coloration. The male also has a black neck, a gray back and a white belly. The female is uniformly brown in color.


Redheads measure 18-22 inches in length with a wingspan of 33 inches. They weigh 2 to 2.5 pounds.



In the wild, Redheads are primarily vegetarian, diving underneath the water to eat aquatic plants and algae.  Their diet also includes some insects and shellfish.  At Cosley Zoo, the ducks are fed a commercially prepared waterfowl diet.


Redheads begin forming pairs in April.  In midsummer, the female uses grasses and other plants to build a nest, which she then fills with down.  She lays 10-14 eggs at a time.  Occasionally, female Redheads will lay their eggs in the already-built nests of other ducks.  When the last egg is laid, a 25-day incubation period begins.  After the eggs hatch, the female remains with the juveniles until they are able to fly at about 8-10 weeks of age.

Shelter and Space Needs

The Redhead's habitat includes shallow freshwater lakes, ponds, and marshes. The body of water needs to be at least 28 inches deep so that the ducks can dive.  Marshes also provide an area rich with aquatic plants and vegetation for protection from predators.   Redheads migrate for the winter, primarily to the Gulf States and Mexico.

Life Expectancy

Uncertain for this breed.  In general, ducks live an average of 2 years in the wild and can live over 10 years in captivity.

Relationship With Man

Redheads are popular with many duck hunters, and money spent on hunting licenses supports the conservation of wild animals and their habitat.

Fun Facts