- ORDER: Anseriformes
- FAMILY: Anatidae
Often called the aristocrat of ducks, the Canvasback holds its long sloping forehead high with a distinguished look. Males stand out with a rusty head and neck and a gleaming whitish body bookended in black. Females are pale brown overall, but that Canvasback head shape still gives them away. This diving duck eats plant tubers at the bottom of lakes and wetlands. It breeds in lakes and marshes and winters by the thousands on freshwater lakes and coastal waters.More ID Info
Find This Bird
In the continental United States, spring, fall, and winter are the best times to go looking for a Canvasback. They gather in large groups on open water, where their white bodies gleam and the sloping forehead helps them stand out from other waterbirds. Because Canvasbacks are hunted, they tend to be wary and readily flush. To get a look before they take off, it's useful to have a spotting scope (or join a bird club outing where the trip leader is likely to bring one). Staying in a car or blind are also ways to get good views without agitating them.
- Porrón coacoxtle (Spanish)
- Fuligule à dos blanc (French)
- Cool Facts
- The species name of the Canvasback, valisineria, comes from Vallisneria americana, or wild celery, whose winter buds and stems are the duck’s preferred food during the nonbreeding period.
- In the world of ducks, females abide by the saying, “don't put all your eggs in one basket.” Female Canvasbacks sometimes lay eggs in another Canvasback's nest; and Redheads and Ruddy Ducks sometimes lay their eggs in a Canvasback's nest.
- The oldest recorded Canvasback was a male, and at least 22 years, 7 months old when he was shot in California in 1991. He had been banded in the same state in 1969.