Naturalist Fact: Canvasback Duck

Canvasbacks can be found in open waters around LSSI during the winter months as they migrate south and then again on their northern migration back to the breeding grounds. Canvasbacks breed in the prairie-pothole region of southern Canada and the females usually construct their nest over water.

Canvasbacks can dive up to 30 feet below the surface when feeding and prefer aquatic plants, but their diet also includes invertebrates such as snails and insect larvae and small clams.

 The canvasback was known as the “King of the Ducks” during the market hunting days of the late 1800's and early 1900's and because of their culinary reputation, canvasbacks were the most valuable of commercially hunted ducks, bringing three or four

times as much as mallards and other species. Canvasback numbers have rebounded since commercial market hunting was outlawed with the passage of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act in 1918. Today, the canvasback makes up just under 5% of Georgia’s annual duck harvest.

Canvasbacks are considered one of the fastest of all ducks on the wing with recorded speeds of over 70mph and, when migrating, canvasbacks often fly in an impressive V-shaped formation that resembles a squadron of airplanes at high altitude.

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