Artists and Birds

by Marilyn and Keith Davis

"From Clown School to Pond"

Ruddy Duck

ruddy duck       Most duck species have one or two characteristics that make them different. But with Ruddy Ducks, almost everything is unusual. Ruddy Ducks are of the "stiff-tailed ducks" tribe. Their spiky tail is often held erect above the water in display. The tail is a sure giveaway to identify. Ruddy ducks are shy, spending much of their time surrounded by the cattails that grow in shallow water at the edge of wetlands. To view them in winter, go to where Quail Creek spills into Quail Lake Reservoir. These shallow waters seem to be a favorite haunt of the Ruddy Ducks. Also, Springs Park Pond in St. George attracts large numbers of migrating, and wintering water fowl because of its close proximity to the Virgin River. This is the pond to see Ruddy Ducks, up close, in most any season of the year. Ruddy Ducks are smaller, but great divers who feed on insects, seeds, and roots of aquatic plants.

        When male Ruddy Ducks achieve their breeding plumage, they look as though they graduated from Clown School with their white face patch, bright colors, pointy tail, and blue bill. The female Ruddy Duck has the remarkable ability to lay a clutch of eggs, at the rate of one per day, that can exceed her own body mass!  Now that makes them an unusual species.

        The artist this week is Brenda Rusnell. Thank you Brenda for showing us what to look for. See if you can find a Ruddy Duck in your travels. If you don't want to travel by yourself, come along on a Red Cliffs Audubon Field Trip. Call Marilyn Davis for more information at 435 673-0996.

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