Ruddy Duck Hen in Golden Evening Light

/, Mallards, Ruddy Ducks, Salt Lake County/Ruddy Duck Hen in Golden Evening Light

Ruddy Duck female in evening lightRuddy Duck hen in evening light – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/800, ISO 320, -0.7 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

I came across this photo of a Ruddy Duck hen in evening light yesterday while looking for another photo in my archives and wondered why I hadn’t processed and shared the image. I probably didn’t process it because of lack of time, having quite a bit on my plate seems to be a daily occurrence for me and has for some time.

The Ruddy Duck hen was photographed at a pond close to where I live during the evening hours and I loved the golden light on the bird and on the water. It was a bit breezy that evening and little waves had formed on the pond which created nice reflections on the blue water. I don’t have many opportunities with Ruddy Ducks up close because they can be quite skittish. I would be too if people shot at me for a couple of months each year.

Ruddy Ducks breed in northern Utah and are seen year round in some parts of the state. In breeding plumage the males have sky blue bills, bright white cheek patches, black caps and chestnut colored bodies. The females are brown and have a brown streak across pale cheeks.

Ruddy Duck - Mallard size comparisonRuddy Duck – Mallard size comparison – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/800, ISO 320, -0.7 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

Ruddy Ducks are small diving ducks that dive for aquatic insects, zooplankton, crustaceans and other invertebrates. They aren’t North America’s smallest duck, Green-winged Teals have that distinction, but they are pretty tiny compared to most of the ducks I see on the pond nearby. I really didn’t care much for this photo because of the out of focus Mallard in the background but I kept it because it showed the size comparison between the Ruddy Duck and the Mallard very well.

Last week I saw a female Ruddy Duck at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge and she was the first I had seen close enough to photograph since early summer, soon their numbers will increase at the refuge, Farmington Bay WMA and along the causeway to Antelope Island. As summer begins to slip away and autumn begins to tip toe in duck numbers will increase in northern Utah. I’m looking forward to seeing them.

Life is good.



  1. Stu September 18, 2017 at 10:17 pm

    I join in the thanks for the size education — and all of the excellent images and information you post.

    Best wishes.

  2. April Olson September 18, 2017 at 3:51 pm

    Beautiful water colors. I love ruddies. They have a wonderful feel when you hold them. My favorite 2 birds to hold are Ruddy Ducks and Pied-billed Grebes. Most who have held them will agree.

  3. Elephants Child September 18, 2017 at 2:45 pm

    Lovely things. Thank you. And thank you for the size education.

  4. Patty Chadwick September 18, 2017 at 10:45 am

    Great size comparison photo…had no idea Ruddy ducks were so small!

  5. Liz Cormack September 18, 2017 at 6:37 am

    I didn’t realize that Ruddy Ducks were so small compared to a Mallard. I’m always learning from you. Thank you.

  6. September 18, 2017 at 5:27 am

    The big wheel turning….

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