October 17, 2019


Canvasback Duck
(Aythya valisineria) is a large diving duck found in Maine mainly during the winter months, where it favors marshy estuaries. Flocks usually migrate late in fall and early in spring, and can be seen flying in lines or V formations.

The Canvasback dives for its food, mainly the bases and roots of plants growing underwater. Its Latin scientific name, valisineria, refers to the name of wild celery, an aquatic plant it loves to eat.

Males are whitish,with a chestnut red head sloping into the long blackish bill. The eye is red, neck rugous, and chest black. Femailes are gray-colored, with a brown chest and pale rust colors on the head and neck. Adults typically run about 2 feet in length.

Canvasbacks mainly eat the leaves, roots, and seeds of aquatic plants. They are also known to dine on mollusks, insects, and some small fish, diving in shallow water.

The breeding season is in spring, and they favor marshy areas with dense vegetation for nesting. After the female lays her eggs, they hatch in about one month. Several hours after hatching, the mother duck leads her brood to open water. The young feed themselves, but the mother remains with them for several weeks.

Although still relatively plentiful, the numbers of canvasbacks have been declining as development reduces their habitat.