Diving Ducks (Aythya)
Second in diversity only to the Anas ducks, North America's seven Aythya species, commonly called diving ducks, inhabit fresh water locations from coast to coast.
Diving ducks share a physiological foot characteristic. Compared to dabbling ducks, their legs and feet are situated further back on the body.
Having the legs situated this way helps them with their propulsion while they are in the water. It also makes it awkward for them to walk on land, consequently you rarely see them walking.
Leg structure also makes it easy to identify diving ducks at a distance. They need a running start on the water in order to lift off for flight. Their large webbed feet help them with that task. Dabbling ducks can take flight almost instantly.
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Types of Ducks
Types of Birds
Two Scaup species Lesser Scaups (Aythya affinis) and Greater Scaups (Aythya marila) make their list, with size being the principle physical characteristic distinguishing them.
Habitat additionally differentiates the species, with Lesser Scaups preferring mostly fresh water environments and Greater Scaups preferring salt water environments.
During non-breeding season, the back feathers turn brown. The top picture shows a male during non-breeding season.
The Canvasback (Aythya valisineria) habitat changes from season to season. The lake regions of western North America serve as popular breeding areas.
Come winter, most migrate to southern coastal regions.
Picture two shows the male Canvasback in breeding plumage. The red head and neck and eyes are complimented by a white body. From afar, males can be confused with the male Redhead Duck.
Canvasbacks have a straighter sloping profile from the top of the forehead to the tip of the bill. Females have mostly all brown feathers with a similar profile and black bill.
One look at the Redhead Duck (Aythya americana) explains the name. In addition to the head feathers, males also get recognized by the gray, black tipped bill.
Diving ducks with a preference of fresh water habitats, most of the breeding population is located in the West.
Ring-necked ducks (Aythya collaris), boldly colored black and white diving ducks, prefer shallow water environments across the continent.
Their diet consists primarily of plants, however, they are also know to eat aquatic insects.
© 2006-2013 Patricia A. Michaels