Harteman Wildfowl, presented by Jan Harteman
Waterfowl or wildfowl (Anseriformes) are well known to be birds with extraordinary appearance and behaviour. Some of the most peculiar ducks are endangered species too! We have compiled a top 10 of the strangest ducks from around the world.
The white-headed duck (Oxyura leucocephala) is a stiff-tailed duck. This duck breeds in Spain and North Africa, with a larger population in western and central Asia. Despite uncertainty about the possible large-scale inter-year movement of birds between wintering sites, mid-winter counts indicate that the population of this species has undergone a very rapid decline, which qualifies it as Endangered.
The black-headed duck is a South American duck allied to the stiff-tailed ducks. The Black-headed duck is of interest as an obligate brood parasite because the females never nest and lay their eggs in the nests of other birds instead, earning it the nickname Cuckoo Duck.
Many years the Laysan teal or Laysan duck survived on a small island (400 ha) in the middle of the huge Pacific Ocean. It is a miracle it is still not extinct. Moreover, this island contains a 200 ha lake with brakisch, so useless water. Thus for water they rely on some small fresh water ponds that dry out during hot summers.
The pink-eared duck is a species of duck found in Australia. It has a large spatulate bill like the shovelers. Its vernacular name refers to a pink spot in the corner formed by the black head pattern; it is only noticeable at close distance however. Widely distributed throughout Australia and highly mobile, these ducks can appear anywhere there is standing water, especially in dry inland regions, where annual rainfall rarely exceeds 15 inches.
This flightless species can be found on the Pacific coast of South America from south-central Chile to Tierra del Fuego. The Magelannic steamer duck frequents rocky coastlines and can be found several miles offshore. It dives in shallow waters among kelp beds, with a diet of aquatic molluscs, crutaceans and sometimes fish. Foraging occurs mostly during the high tide.
This species is named for the unusual knob at the base of the male's bill. The two subspecies are seperated by the Atlantic Ocean. The Old World Comb Duck is found throughout much of Africa, south of the Sahara and Madagascar. This subspecies can also be found on the Indian subcontinent, Sri Lanka, Burma and Thailand. The New World Comb Duck is native to the tropical regions of South America.
Considered by most as the most ornamental of the world's ducks, the Mandarin duck is a very popular aviary bird and commonly seen in many collections. They are closely related to the North American Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) and both species are the only members of the genus Aix. In the wild, Mandarins can be found in China, Korea, Japan and eastern Siberia. They have also been introduced to England where they have established themselves quite well. Mandarins have been the subject of art, poetry and other forms of Oriental literature for many centuries. In ancient literature, the Mandarin was known as a symbol of marital fidelity, due in large part to their strong pair bonds.
The spectacled eider breeds along the coasts of north-east Siberia, Russia and east from the Leni Delta to north Alaska, USA. Its wintering grounds have only recently been discovered in an otherwise unbroken sea of ice halfway between St Lawrence and St Matthew Islands in the Bering sea.
The North American Hooded merganser is striking in appearance; both sexes have crests that they can raise or lower. In breeding plumage, the drake dons a large white crest or "hood" for which the species is named, the crest is bordered with black; the face, throat and upper back are also black. During eclipse, the male is similar to the female, but often brigther ans with more white on the wings.
This strange duck breeds along the northern hemisphere Arctic coasts of Europe, North America and Asia. It can be found further south during the winter, including the north-east and north-west coast of North America, on Iceland and islands north of the United Kingdom, and on the Pacific coast of Asia to the tip of the Kamchatka Peninsula (Russia). Wintering birds can form large flocks on suitable coastal waters, with some flocks exceeding 100,000 birds.
Want to see more peculiar ducks and other wildfowl? Visit this page!