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Tufted Duck

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Latin: Aythya fuligula
Average length: 16-18"
Average weight: M 1.68 lbs., F 1.57 lbs.

Description: Male tufted ducks closely resemble their counterparts, ring-necked ducks. The principle difference is the tuft of feathers that fall behind the head. In addition, the sides are white rather than gray, the bill lacks a white margin at the base and in flight a white stripe at the back of the inner wing is displayed. The female tufted duck is similar in appearance to female scaup, but is black-brown with a smaller patch of white at the base of the bill. At the back of the head, there is a small protuberance of feathers, which is much smaller than the male's.


Breeding: Tufted ducks breed across Eurasia from Iceland and the British Isles east across Russia and Siberia to the Kamchatka Peninsula and the Commander Islands. There are no breeding records of tufted ducks in North America. Female tufted ducks nest on islands in lakes or on sloped banks of small wetlands in reeds, tufts of grass or under bushes close to water. They lay an average of 9 eggs.


Migrating and Wintering: In winter, tufted ducks can be found as far south as the Mediterranean Sea, Saudi Arabia, the Persian Gulf, southern India, Thailand and the Philippines. In North America, the tufted duck is a regular visitor to western Alaska and a rare visitor along the east coast south to Maryland and the west coast to southern California.


Population: Although no reliable estimates exist, populations are generally considered to be stable or increasing in most areas.


Food habits: Tufted ducks dive to feed on the roots, seeds and buds of aquatic plants; clams; snails; aquatic insects and sometimes amphibians and small fish. They also skim flies and duckweed on the water's surface.


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