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We compared nutrients in reproductive and nonreproductive tissues of breeding Canvasbacks (Aythya valisineria) to assess the relative importance of endogenous reserves and exogenous foods. Fat reserves of females increased during rapid follicle growth and varied more widely in size during the early phase of this period. Females began laying with ca. 205 g of fat in reserve and lost 1.8 g of carcass fat for every 1 g of fat contained in their ovary and eggs. Females lost body mass (primarily fat) at a declining rate as incubation advanced. Protein reserves increased directly with dry oviduct mass during rapid follicle growth. This direct relationship was highly dependent upon data from 2 birds and likely biased by structural size. During laying, protein reserves did not vary with the combined mass of dry oviduct and dry egg protein. Between laying and incubation, mean protein reserves decreased by an amount equal to the protein found in 2.1 Canvasback eggs. Calcium reserves did not vary with the cumulative total of calcium deposited in eggs. Mean calcium reserve declined by the equivalent content of 1.2 eggs between laying and incubation. We believe that protein and calcium were stored in small amounts during laying, and that they were supplemented continually by exogenous sources. In contrast, fat was stored in large amounts and contributed significantly to egg production and body maintenance. Male Canvasbacks lost fat steadily--but not protein or calcium--as the breeding season progressed.