The Andean Duck is a beautiful bird found in the high-altitude wetlands of the Andes Mountains in South America. Scientifically known as Oxyura ferruginea, this duck is also called the Ruddy Duck, Andean Ruddy Duck, or Ruddy-headed Duck. It belongs to the family Anatidae, which includes other ducks, geese, and swans.
The Andean Duck is a small bird, with males growing to 38–43 cm in length and females to 35–41 cm. They weigh between 350 and 500 grams. These birds have a compact body, thick neck, and round head. The males are easily distinguished by their rust-red head, contrasting with a blue-gray bill and a black cheek patch. The body is brown, while the wings are grayish-brown with darker feathers. Females are brown with a paler belly and a dark brown bill.
The Andean Duck is a highly specialized diving bird and can stay underwater for up to 30 seconds in search of food. Their diet consists of crustaceans, mollusks, aquatic plants, and insects. These ducks have a unique feature: their legs are located almost at the end of the body, which helps them swim with ease and maneuverability in water.
These birds are monogamous and form breeding pairs during the breeding season, which is from October to February. The female lays a clutch of four to six eggs, which hatch after an incubation period of 22 to 25 days. The chicks are precocial, which means they can walk and swim immediately after hatching.
The Andean Duck is considered a Least Concern species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) due to its wide range, stable population, and adaptability. However, habitat loss, hunting, and pollution are some of the threats to their survival.
In conclusion, the Andean Duck is a fascinating bird that has adapted to live in high-altitude wetlands. Its unique features and behavior make it an exciting species to observe and study, and it is essential to protect its habitat and conserve its populations.