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Canvasback Aythya valisineria


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Canvasback, male
credit: Arpingstone

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Anatidae, Ducks and Geese view all from this family

Description ADULT MALE Has a reddish chestnut head, black breast and vent, and otherwise very pale gray body. Note the bright red eye, dark grayish black bill, and, in flight, whitish upper wings. ADULT FEMALE Has buffy brownish head and neck, pale gray-brown body with darker vent. Note the faint pale "spectacle." JUVENILE Similar to adult female, but more uniformly buffy gray.

Dimensions Length: 19-24" (48-61 cm)

Habitat Has declined, but still locally common. Favors prairie potholes and marshes for nesting. Winters mainly on coasts, but may occur inland.

Observation Tips Common in San Francisco Bay area in winter.

Range California, Rocky Mountains, Texas, Northwest, Plains, Great Lakes, Alaska, Western Canada, Florida, Mid-Atlantic, Southwest, Southeast, Eastern Canada, New England

Voice Mostly silent.

Discussion Robust diving duck. Feeds on submerged vegetation and some invertebrates. Similar to Redhead, but separable by key plumage differences, shape of head, and structure and markings of bill: Canvasback has a long, triangular bill, uniformly dark grayish black, upperside of which follows the slope of the flat forehead; Redhead has a rounded head and comparatively dainty bill that is pale grayish blue with subterminal white band and black tip. All birds show pale underwings in flight.