Winter Duckfest Part VII — Redhead And Canvasback

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There are two species of diving ducks — Redheads and Canvasbacks — that superficially resemble each other.  It’s sometimes difficult to tell the two apart at a distance.  Get up close, however, and the differences are unmistakable.

Canvasbacks are somewhat larger than Redheads.  Like Redheads they have red heads and dark breasts.  But, that is the limit to the similarities.  A Canvasback has a dark bill that extends directly from the duck’s head in more or less a straight line.  Males of this species have ruby red eyes.  Their backs are a pale gray in color.


Male Redheads, aside from being smaller than Canvasbacks, have darker gray feathers on their backs.  They have yellow — and not red — eyes.  Their bills are a pale bluish gray in color with black tips and there is a pronounced concavity to their bills that Canvasbacks lack.


I find both species to be extraordinarily beautiful.  However, if I had to choose between them I’d say that Redheads are somewhat prettier.


It’s subjective, I know, but there’s something about the intensity of the Redhead’s plumage which makes this species so attractive.  These ducks can be breathtaking in the right light.

No offense meant to the Canvasbacks.


Images made with a Canon 5Diii, 100-400mm ISII zoom lens, aperture priority setting.  All images shot at ISO 400.  The first image, f6.3 @ 1/1250.  The second image f7.1 @ 1/800.  The third image, f7.1 @ 1/640.  The fourth image, f5.6 @ 1/640.

One response to “Winter Duckfest Part VII — Redhead And Canvasback”

  1. tkiiatmindspringcom says :

    Both are beautiful!

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