Redhead Duck Survives a Fishing Line Snag at the Fox River in Waukesha Wisconsin on February 16, 2020

One of my birding stops this morning was at the Fox River in Waukesha. Some unexpected and unwanted drama occurred. 6 Redheads were present, one female. The ducks starting feeding after a slow start and when one took a dive for some aquatic plants it came fighting some fishing line around its body. It did this action for about 2-3 minutes before taking a break on the ice ledge near the dam, it had to have been exhausted. It went back into the water after a break, I could still see the fishing line and it did some more action in the water to try to get rid of the line. I was instantly trying to think of resources that might be able to help but it was Sunday! The duck in the middle of the river sitting on thin ice with open water inches away in need of help. On the ice, the duck did some biting on the double line, unbelievably the line broke off and fell in the river. What I felt had happened, the duck had grabbed a bill full of aquatic plants and swallowed it along with the line that was free, laying in some of the plants under water. In a couple of minutes the duck seemed fine and it was resting. It seemed like a miracle took place. The 100’s of other ducks and Canada Geese present remained almost motionless during the event, amazing! Images were taken on February 16, 2020.

Redhead, the struggle with the fishing line, I saw the line once in and around the wings…

Most images show the fishing line…

Image shows a double fishing line, the Redhead grabbed some aquatic plant material in the middle of a broken fishing line, ate the plant material, the line stayed in, the exposed fishing line fell into the water, hopefully the line will pass though this duck…

Image of the duck as the fishing line just fell into the water…

After a short rest on the ice and biting the line, the Redhead floats in the river…

Moments later it appears its eyes might be closed…

What was a bustling area, the river full of swimming ducks and geese immediately came to a halt, as they all knew there was trouble…

Redhead Ducks at the Fox River in Waukesha Wisconsin on February 10, 2020

I made a stop at the Fox River early morning in Waukesha to see if anything was going on. 9 Redheads, 5 males and 4 females were present, all resting near the dam. That area was the only part of the river that was not froze over with temps starting out at 10 degrees in the morning. A couple of quick dives and one stretch was the only excitement I saw while I was there for a few minutes. With the main river froze over, I’m sure the ducks were conserving energy by not being active. The river was probably open by noon with the warm sun shinning. Stunning ducks in their breeding plumage. The full sun made for a nice morning out! Images were taken on February 10, 2019.

Redhead, male

Both male and female just finishing up a drink…

A resting male…

Redhead, female

A close up…

Stretching…

More stretching…

A pair…

Incoming…

Some of the gang…

Redhead Duck, juvenile drake at the Fox River in Waukesha Wisconsin on February 2, 2020

Ducks along the Fox River in Waukesha this morning had the common suspects, a 100 plus Mallards other than one duck that stood out, a Redhead, and juvenile drake. Not a stunning duck but still beautiful in it’s own way. It was nice to see something different. Also, a couple of 100 Canada Geese made for some noise along the river. It was a beautiful morning for the time I was out with sunny skies, low winds and temps at 45 plus degrees. Images were taken on February 2, 2020.

Redhead, juvenile drake…

Perched on a rock resting…

Up and looking around….

A turn to the right…a nice look at this duck…

Just cruising along looking pretty…

 

Head up!

Just moving around on the river in between the Mallards…

Redhead

Redhead ducks have been present at the Fox River in downtown Waukesha, WI for the last couple of weeks.  Today, 8 of them were present. With 10-degree temps in the morning, thin ice had formed overnight on the river. The ice kept the ducks near the open water area by the dam where the river is more narrow which gave nice views. As ice disappeared as the sun moved higher they moved out into the wider part of the river. Other duck species present today, Common Goldeneye Ducks (m-f), Red-breasted Mergansers (m-f), Lesser and Greater Scaups (m-f ), Bufflehead and American Coots. The wind made for a very cold day. Photographs taken on March 26th, 2014.

Redhead – Male

Redhead

Binomial name: Aythya americana

Category: Duck, Geese, and Swans

Size: 19” long, 29” wing span

Weight: 2.3 lb.

Habitat:  Lakes and ponds, in a general breeding range from the Mississippi River west and from northern Texas north into central Canada.

Diet: Dive for aquatic plants and parts such as seeds, leaves, algae, stems, tubers and roots. Some of these plants are water lilies, grasses, wild rice, wild celery and pondweeds.  Their diet also includes aquatic insects, mollusks and small-sized fish.

Nesting:  Redhead ducks usually find a new mate each year in late winter for the following spring. In midsummer a nest is constructed of new and old vegetation and lined with down. Nests are located in dense marshes, prairie potholes, and woodland free areas where water levels are at least 28” deep as they dive for their food.  Redheads on occasion use nests that other ducks have constructed. The female lays on the average of 7-12 eggs.

Cool Facts: After the breeding season the adult male heads to big open waters, goes through a molt period, and is almost flightless for a month.

Redhead – Male

Redhead – Male – Female

Redhead – Female

Redhead – Male

Redhead preening – Male

Redhead preening – Male

Redhead – Male – Female

Redhead – Female

Redhead – Female – Male

Redhead – Male

Redhead – Female – Male

Redhead – Male – Fowler Lake Waukesha Co, April 4, 2013