Ruddy duck

Oxyura jamaicensis


Photo credit: ©GBNNSS
Oxyura jamaicensis
  • Ruddy ducks inhabit lowland wetlands with lush emergent vegetation and suitable patches of open water. They favour pools with fairly shallow bottoms and those which are rich in floating and submerged aquatic plants. The birds actively avoid flowing freshwaters and estuaries and saline lagoons.

  • Ruddy ducks (Oxyura jamaicensis) are small, stout freshwater diving ducks with broad, short wings and narrow, stiff tails. It is a relatively small duck (35-43cm long, with a wingspan of 53-62cm) and is rarely seen away from water.
  • The male is unmistakable, with its bright chestnut red breeding plumage, cobalt blue bill and narrow stiff cocked tail. The female is a duller brown colour.

Download N.I.E.A. ID guide

Origin and Distribution:
  • They originate in North and Central America, and the northern part of South America.
  • They have been introduced into wildfowl collections in the UK in the 1950s, and there are small resident populations in France, and the Netherlands.
  • The UK holds 95% of the feral Ruddy Ducks in Europe

  • They threaten the survival of the globally endangered White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala with which it hybridises

How did it get here?
  • Natural dispersal from Britain to Northern Ireland.

Is it found in Northern Ireland?
  • It is present in Northern Ireland.
  • Northern Ireland population is estimated at twenty five to thirty pairs with a wintering population of around seventy to seventy five birds. 
  • Numbers may be underestimated due to the secretive nature of the species and it is possible that this species is much rarer in the region.
  • More distribution information can be found at NBN Atlas NI.

You can help by reporting any sightings:  @ the Centre for Environmental Data & Recording (CEDaR) - Or via the iRecord App.
Prevent Spread:
  • Do not keep Ruddy duck.
  • Report all sightings.

Current Legislative Position (Listed on 03 August 2016)
  • This species must not intentionally be brought into the Union; kept; bred; transported to, from or within the United Kingdom, unless for the transportation to facilities in the context of eradication; placed on the market; used or exchanged; permitted to reproduce, grown or cultivated; or released into the environment.
For further queries, you can contact the Invasive Non Native Species (INNS) Team in the Northern Ireland Environment Agency on 028 9056 9558 or Email:

Species Related Files:

Invasive Species Northern Ireland

Invasive Species Northern Ireland