I was surprised to see this redhead near Lock and Dam 13 in Fulton, IL on Sunday, April 26. There were very few ducks in this area, and most of the birds in the water were coots. I was ready to leave when I noticed this redhead. He was very happy to get his picture taken!
Redhead ducks are 18 to 22 inches in length. The male (pictured here) has a gray back, black chest and a chestnut red head. His bill is grayish-blue with a black tip and he has yellow-orange eyes. The female is light brown with brown eyes. Her bill is similar to the male’s.
The redheads are diving ducks who eat aquatic plants, insects, mollusks, and fish. They travel in flocks, often with other types of ducks. Redheads breed in the summer where the female will lay 10-15 buff colored eggs. Sometimes she will lay her eggs in another redhead’s nest! Once the female starts incubating the eggs, the male will fly south to molt. The incubation time for the eggs is 23-29 days. After hatching the young can feed themselves. It is takes about 10 weeks for the hatchlings to have the ability to fly.