The Canvasback (Aythya valisineria) is a large diving duck. Males have a rust colored head, black breast, and grayish-white body, while the females are a sandy brown color all over. Feeding mostly on seeds, leaves, tubers, snails, and insect larvae, the Canvasback lays 5 to 11 greenish-drab eggs per breeding season.

In winter, lakes and lagoons of northern San Diego County are some of the Canvasback’s favored sites, especially O’Neill Lake at Camp Pendleton, Buena Vista Lagoon, and the Santa Margarita River mouth. Unlike many wintering ducks, which return to the same sites annually, the Canvasback is rather irregular. It is usually uncommon, yet large flocks appear from time to time along the San Diego County coast as well as inland lakes.

To learn more about the Canvasback check out the San Diego County Bird Atlas from your local library or purchase it from the Museum store and take it on your next birding trip.

PHOTO CREDIT: U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters