Canvasback ducks

By: , and 
Edited by: Edward T. LaRoeGaye S. FarrisCatherine E. PuckettPeter D. Doran, and Michael J. Mac



Canvasbacks (Aythya valisineria) are unique to North America and are one of our most widely recognized waterfowl species. Unlike other ducks that nest and feed in uplands, diving ducks such as canvasbacks are totally dependent on aquatic habitats throughout their life cycle. Canvasbacks nest in prairie, parkland, subarctic, and Great Basin wetlands; stage during spring and fall on prairie marshes, northern lakes, and rivers; and winter in Atlantic, Pacific, and Gulf of Mexico bays, estuaries, and some inland lakes. They feed on plant and animal foods in wetland sediments. Availability of preferred foods, especially energy-rich subterranean plant parts, is probably the most important factor influencing geographic distribution and habitat use by canvasbacks.      

In spite of management efforts that have included restrictive harvest regulations and frequent hunting closures in all or some of the flyways (Anderson 1989), canvasback numbers declined from 1955 to 1993 and remain below the population goal (540,000) of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan (USFWS and Canadian Wildlife Service 1994). Causes for this apparent decline are not well understood, but habitat loss and degradation, low rates of recruitment, a highly skewed sex ratio favoring males, and reduced survival of canvasbacks during their first year are considered important constraints on population growth.

Publication type Book chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Title Canvasback ducks
Year Published 1995
Language English
Publisher National Biological Service
Publisher location Washington, D.C.
Contributing office(s) Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Western Ecological Research Center
Description 4 p.
Larger Work Type Book
Larger Work Subtype Monograph
Larger Work Title Our living resources: A report to the nation on the distribution, abundance, and health of U.S. plants, animals, and ecosystems
First page 40
Last page 43
Country United States
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