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Ruddy duck

Ruddy duck     Oxyura jamaicensis

Photo credit: GBNNSS

  • Appearance: Small, compact duck with horizontal band around head (black in males and brown in females). Males also have a distinctive white cheek patch. Broad, short wings, with narrow, stiff upright tail. Males have a blue beak.
  • Impact: Has the potential to cause the extinction of the globally threatened White-headed duck due to interbreeding. The ruddy duck is subject to an eradication programme in the UK in order to prevent this.
  • Pathway: Occasionally found as wild birds or may have escaped or been deliberately released into the wild.
  • Legal status: Species of special concern listed under the retained EU Regulation 1143/2014 and the Invasive Alien Species (Enforcement & Permitting) Order 2019.
  • Unless you have a licence or permit or an exemption applies you must not:
    • keep them in your house, garden or business
    • sell them to other people
    • exchange them for goods
    • release them into the environment
    • let them breed or escape
    • import them into the UK
    • transport them within the UK
    • export them to other countries


  • What to do if you see Ruddy duck for sale or other offences being committed: Make a report by following the guidance here.


  • What to do if you see this animal in the wild: This is an alert species, record it with a photograph (where possible).