Papers in the Biological Sciences


Date of this Version

April 1995


Published in Birders' World 9:2 (April 1995), pp. 48-51. Copyright 1995 Birders' World, Inc. Used by permission.


The punk rock star of waterfowl, a male Ruddy Duck displays an assortment of odd attributes, including a blue bill, stiff, spiky tail, and horns on its head. The instinctive attraction and fascination in reaction to the sight of a Ruddy Duck in breeding condition is perhaps as hard to understand as a teenager's compulsive reverence to some rock star. The Ruddy Duck has a football player's neck that is at least half again too large for its body, a dumpy body that is both shaped and colored like a partly flattened and rusty tin can, and an array of spiky, often partly missing, broken or disheveled tail feathers that seem to be haphazardly inserted vertically into its rump. A pair of satanic feathered horns rise periodically from the top of its oversized head, which is mostly white except for a black cap that is pulled down gangster-like to eye level. The whole scene is topped off by an over-sized bill that is an unbelievable cerulean blue, as if some color-blind artist had mistaken blue for gray on his palette.

Ruddyducktext.pdf (135 kB)
Text-only version (pdf)

Included in

Ornithology Commons