Stiff-tail Duck (Oxyurinae) Identification


Stiff-tail Ducks belong to the Oxyura genus or Oxyurinae sub-family and include five species including the Argentine Blue-bill or Lake Duck, Blue-billed Duck, Maccoa Duck, Ruddy Duck, and White-headed Duck. The Musk Duck is also a Stiff-tail Duck but is the only living member of the genus Biziura.

All these ducks have distinctive long stiff tail feathers which are erect when the bird is at rest, and have swollen beaks. The legs are set far back on their body making it difficult to walk on land so they much prefer being on the water.

Click on the Duck photographs to enlarge them or if you click on the Duck's name then it will take you to another page with information, more photos, and sometimes a video of that particular Duck.

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Click to enlarge Maccoa Duck
(Oxyura Maccoa)
Photo: Dave Key
Click to enlarge Ruddy Duck
(Oxyura Jamaicensis)
Photo: Dave Key
Click to enlarge White-headed Duck
(Oxyura Leucocephalia)
Photo: Dave Key
Click to enlarge Blue-billed Duck
(Oxyura Australis)
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Click to enlarge Lake Duck
(Oxyura Vittata)
Photo: Nigel Key
Click to enlarge Musk Duck
(Biziura Lobata)
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Maccoa Duck: The male has a chestnut coloured body, black head, bright blue beak, stiff black tail, upper wings are dark brown and underwings greyish-white, belly and undertail are whitish, eyes are dark brown, and legs and webbed feet are grey. The female has a grey-brown body, dark brown crown, nape, and cheek-stripe, and a dark grey beak.
more information.....

Ruddy Duck: The male has a black cap which extends below the eye, black nape, white chin and cheeks, deep-chestnut brown upperparts, upper-breast, and flanks, a long dark-brown tail (which is often erect), and silver-white underparts mottled and barred with brown. The beak is bluish, and legs and feet are bluish-grey. The female has a grey-brown body, with a dark cap, buff-white cheeks with dark brown cheek stripe, the legs, feet, and beak are grey.
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White-headed Duck: The male has a white head with black cap and neck, upperparts are grey and reddish-brown, and upper tail coverts are chestnut brown, with a black tail (which is often erect), a deep chestnut breast with grey-brown abdomen and under tail coverts, the beak is bright blue, and legs and feet are grey. The female is similar but is more greyish-brown, with a dark brown crown and nape, the cheeks are buff-white with a brown line running across, and the beak is dark grey.
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Blue-billed Duck: The male Blue-billed Duck in breeding season has a deep chestnut body, a black head and neck, a blue beak, brown eyes, white abdomen, grey-black tail, and the legs and feet are grey. During non-breeding season the male's chestnut plumage may turn dark grey. The female has a brown barred body, dark-brown head which is paler on the throat and neck, and dark-brown beak.
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Lake Duck: The male Lake Duck in breeding season has a deep chestnut body, a black head and neck, a blue beak, brown eyes, whitish abdomen, grey tail, dark-brown wings, and the legs and feet are dark grey. During non-breeding season the male looks similar to the female but with some reddish feathers on the body. The female has a dark-brown head with a whitish lower head and foreneck, a whitish stripe under the eye, dark-grey beak, and brown body.
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Musk Duck: The male Musk Duck during the breeding season has a black crown and nape, slightly paler cheeks, brown eyes, a black stout beak with a large fleshy lobe underneath, the body is brown-black with a slight pinstripe plumage, a whitish abdomen, black tail and flight feathers, and legs and feet are blackish-grey. The female is very similar but smaller and without the fleshy lobe under the beak which is also missing on the male during its non-breeding plumage.
more information.....