This is the smallest dabbling duck in North America. These beautiful birds are graceful fliers, able to fly in tight formations at high speeds within large flocks. Feeds on insects, seeds and aquatic plants. A hardy bird, they are some of the last to arrive at their winter habitat and the first to leave. In spring the mated pair return to the females previous breeding gound, not the males.
General: 12-14 inches in length.
Male: Chestnut colored head with iridescent green face patch, which extends from around the eye to the back of the head. Bright green speculum. Gray flanks and back. Pinkish or buff breast with dark spots. Vertical white stripe down side of chest. Dark bill. Adult male basic is similar to adult female, but with duller face pattern.
Female: Dark brown with slightly paler head and neck. Dark brown cap and eyeline. No distinctive markings. Whitish breast with dark spots. White belly. Small black bill. Bright green speculum. Horizontal white-buff stripe above flanks.
Juveniles: Similar to adult female.
Marshes, ponds, lakes, and mud flats. Prefers freshwater.
10-12 whitish or pale-buff eggs. They have a 21-23 day incubation period. Only the female incubates the eggs. Fledging occurs 34 days after hatching. The nest is an open cup lined with down. It is built in tall grass some distance from the water.
- San Diego Flood Control Channel, San Diego