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      Ruddy duck (Photo: Larry Master) - Click for full size   Oxyura jamaicensis (Photo: Mark Hulme/The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust) - Click for full size
    Taxonomic name: Oxyura jamaicensis (J. F. Gmelin 1789)
    Synonyms: Anas jamaicensis Gmelin 1789
    Common names: Amerikansk kopparand (Swedish), Amerikansk skarveand (Danish), erismature rouse (French), gobbo della giamaica (Italian), hrókönd (Icelandic), malvasía cabeciblanca (Spanish), northern ruddy duck (English), rosse stekelstaarteend (Dutch), ruddy duck (English), schwartzkopf ruderente (German), stivhaleand (Norwegian)
    Organism type: bird
    Oxyura jamaicensis (ruddy duck) is native to North America. It was imported into wildfowl collections in the UK in the 1940s and subsequently escaped to form a feral population from which birds are now spreading as far as Spain, where they threaten the globally endangered white-headed duck (Oxyura leucocephala) with extinction through introgressive hybridisation and competition. A regional trial of control measures, in which over 2,000 birds have been controlled, is ongoing in the UK. Control programmes are also in place in France, Spain and Portugal and are urgently needed in The Netherlands and Belgium. Oxyura jamaicensis are relatively easy to shoot as they tend not to leave water-bodies during control activities.
    Oxyura jamaicensis (ruddy duck) is a small diving duck with a long tail, often held erect. On an average the females weigh 550g and males around 600g. During the breeding season males can be distinguished from other ducks by a white cheek patch, chestnut red body plumage, and blue bill. Females are distinguished by their body structure and off-white cheek split by a horizontal brown stripe. Both sexes can be distinguished from the white-headed duck by their smaller size, shorter tail, thinner cheek stripe and concave bill profile.
    Occurs in:
    estuarine habitats, lakes, water courses, wetlands
    Habitat description
    Oxyura jamaicensis (ruddy duck's) habitat includes marshes, lakes and coastal areas; and when not breeding, on sheltered brackish and marine coastal areas as well as lakes and rivers (temperate Zone). They nest on freshwater marshes, sloughs, lakes, and ponds, and in areas where open water is bordered by dense aquatic vegetation. The nest is a floating structure of marsh plants hidden by growing plants. Ruddy ducks lay eggs in nests of other waterfowl species. They may nest at potholes of less than an acre (InfoNatura, 2004).
    Oxyura jamaicensis (ruddy ducks) are relatively easy to shoot as they tend not to leave water-bodies during control activities.
    Geographical range
    Native range: Native to North and Central America including Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Bahamas, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Honduras, Haiti, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Cayman Islands, Saint Lucia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, El Salvador, Turks and Caicos Islands, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Virgin Islands, British, Virgin Islands, U.S. (InfoNatura, 2004).
    Known introduced range: UK feral population numbered some 5,000 wintering birds in January 2000. There have been records from 19 other countries in Europe and North Africa (Hughes et al. 1999) with annual presence during the breeding season in nine (Belgium, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Morocco, Netherlands, Spain and Sweden). It is also reported from Switzerland, Norway, Denmark, Italy, Finland, Portugal, Israel, Turkey, Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, Algeria and Tunisia.
    Introduction pathways to new locations
    Ignorant possession: Accidental releases from waterfowl collections.
    Natural dispersal: Subsequent spread from the UK feral population to Europe.
    Taken to botanical garden/zoo: Accidental releases from waterfowl collections.

    Local dispersal methods
    Escape from confinement:
    Natural dispersal (local):
    Management information
    In the UK, a four year research programme (1992-1996) evaluated the success of seven control techniques (winter rifle-shooting, winter shotgun-shooting, summer rifle-shooting, summer shotgun-shooting (all shooting land based), winter trapping using baited cage traps, nest trapping females, and egg-control). Population modelling suggested that shooting, and breeding season shooting in particular, was the most efficient technique for ruddy duck control. Summer shooting was at least 2.5 times as efficient as nest-trapping, and at least 3.5 times as efficient as egg destruction (Hughes 1996). A regional trial of control methods (1999-2002), which has controlled over 2,000 ruddy ducks, has shown that shotgun-shooting from boats, thoughout the year, to be even more cost effective.

    National control programmes for ruddy ducks and hybrids are now in place in Spain (84 ruddy ducks and 57 hybrids shot to December 2000), France (43 ruddy ducks shot to October 2000) and Portugal (one ruddy duck and two hybrids shot), but not in other key countries, such as The Netherlands, Belgium, and Morocco. In France and Spain where there are much smaller numbers of birds present, often only single birds in flocks of other ducks, a more selective shooting technique needs to be used, involving the use of rifles, hides (both floating and shore-based) and boats to move birds towards marksmen.

    Please follow this link to view BirdLife: White-headed Duck (Oxyura leucocephala) for information on the population status of the white-headed and ruddy duck in Europe, legal protection, establishment of protected areas and planning conservation activities and the implementation of the recommendations of the Bern convention (Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats).

    Please follow this link to read Hughes, B., Robinson, J.A., Green, A.J., Li, Z.W.D. & Mundkur, T. (Compilers). 2006. International Single Species Action Plan for the Conservation of the White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala.

    Oxyura jamaicensis (ruddy ducks) feed on benthic invertebrates, especially chironomid larvae.
    Sexual. Seasonal - from April to August. Timing of breeding is controlled by physiological readiness modified by food availability, stability of water levels and available nesting cover. Egg-laying season is aligned symmetrically either side of longest day. Ruddy ducks may dump eggs and forego breeding if conditions become unsuitable. Breeding strategy is a mixture of monogamy, polygyny and promiscuity. Ruddy ducks can relay up to 4 times per season if eggs are lost. There is usually only one brood per year, but there can be a double brood (2-3 young per female per year).
    Lifecycle stages
    Oxyura jamaicensis (ruddy ducks) produce large eggs to maximise survival of large nidifugous young. They breed first when one year old. They arrive on breeding grounds in April, nest building occurs mainly in May, incubation in June, and most broods hatch in July. Birds leave breeding areas in August/September. In the USA, age composition in autumn is estimated at 1:1 adults to juveniles. The sex ratio is male biased (c1.1-1-2 males per female in late winter). Survival rates are unknown. Maximum lifespan of wild ringed individuals in the USA is 13 years, but most were reported dead less than 2 years after ringing (US Dept. Interior unpubl. data); 18 captive birds had mean lifespan of 2.4 years.
    Reviewed by: Dr. Baz Hughes, The Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, Slimbridge, Glos. GL2 7BT, United Kingdom.
    Compiled by: Dr. Baz Hughes, The Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust & IUCN/SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG)
    Last Modified: Friday, 31 March 2006

ISSG Landcare Research NBII IUCN University of Auckland