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Ruddy ducks are very small, chunky birds, unpatterned except for conspicuous white cheeks. Winter males are grayish-brown with white cheeks, a dark cap and a large, gray-blue bill. Females are similar but with light cheeks crossed by a dark line. Both sexes have a long tail that is often cocked straight up.
Ruddies prefer to escape danger by diving or hiding in vegetation. But once airborne, they are fast fliers with a quick wingbeat. On the wing, they are unpatterned except for the distinctive white cheeks.
Ruddy Duck Key Field Marks
Small chubby diving duck with a white cheek patch and dark cap.