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Masked Duck

Known for their rusty red plumage, these birds live in Central and South America.

The Masked Duck is a little known, small stiff-tailed duck.  Reported as shy, but a single male wintering for several years in Florida was aggressive in chasing Blue-winged Teal and Moorhens.


Description of the Masked Duck


 – Rust-colored body.
– Black face.
– Dark mottling on wings.
– Blue bill with dark tip.
– Stiff tail may be up or down.
– White wing patch more obvious in flight.
– Length:  13in.   Wingspan: 17in.

Masked Duck

Photograph © Greg Lavaty.


 – Barred brownish gray body.
– Two horizontal darkly colored stripes running across buff colored face.
– Grayish bill.

Seasonal change in appearance

Male resembles female with two dark bars on face. Grayish bill.


Resembles female.


Freshwater marshes.  Ponds with vegetation.


Seeds, roots and leaves of aquatic plants. Also aquatic insects and crustaceans.


Feed by diving.  Can be aggressive toward other small waterfowl.


Mexico to South America. Rare visitor to southern Texas and Florida.

Fun Facts

Males play a minor role in care of the young.  The species has not been well-studied.


Generally silent.  May give hisses or puffing sounds.


Similar Species

  • Ruddy Duck
    Male in breeding plumage lacks the solid black face.
    Females and non-breeding males have single bar on the face.


Nests from October to August, varies by location. Nest is a deep cup, sometimes covered.

Number: Usually 4 to 8.


Bent Life History of the Masked Duck

About the Author

Sam Crowe

Sam is the founder of He has been birding for over 30 years and has a world list of over 2000 species. He has served as treasurer of the Texas Ornithological Society, Sanctuary Chair of Dallas Audubon, Editor of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's "All About Birds" web site and as a contributing editor for Birding Business magazine. Many of his photographs and videos can be found on the site.

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