The Canvasback (Aythya valisineria) is a medium to large-sized diving duck that is found throughout North America. The Canvasback is one of the largest ducks in North America, measuring between 19 to 24 inches in length, with a wingspan of 30 to 33 inches. They weigh between 2.5 and 3.5 pounds, with males being slightly larger than females. The Canvasback has a unique head shape that is elongated and slopes gently down to a narrow bill.
The most distinguishing field mark of the Canvasback is its bright red eye, which contrasts with its black and white body. Males have a chestnut-red head, neck, and chest, while females have a brownish-gray head and neck. Both sexes have a blackish back and a white underbelly. In flight, their wings have a distinctive white patch, which is visible even from a distance.
Canvasbacks are migratory birds and breed in the prairie pothole region of Canada and the northern United States. During the winter months, they can be found along the coasts of the United States, as well as in large inland lakes and reservoirs. They are known for their long-distance migrations, with some individuals traveling as far as 3,000 miles between their breeding and wintering grounds.
Canvasbacks are primarily herbivores and feed on the roots, stems, and leaves of aquatic plants such as wild celery and pondweed. They also eat some small invertebrates and mollusks. Canvasbacks are social birds and can often be found in large flocks during the winter months. They are also known for their elaborate courtship displays, which involve the male Canvasback bobbing its head and calling to attract a mate.
While the Canvasback was once a popular game bird, its populations have declined in recent years due to habitat loss and hunting pressure. Conservation efforts have been put in place to protect their breeding and wintering habitats, and hunting regulations have been implemented to help prevent over-harvesting. Despite these challenges, the Canvasback remains a beloved species among birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts.