Harteman Wildfowl, presented by Jan Harteman

Southern pochard

Netta erythrophthalma

Zuiderse duikeend / Rotaugenente / Nette brune

The southern pochard (Netta erythrophthalma) is a diving duck. There are two subspecies, the South American (southern) pochard N. e. erythrophthalma (Wied-Neuwied, 1833) and the African (southern) pochard N. e. brunnea (Eyton, 1838).

The South American pochard has a fragmented range and is found from Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Argentina to Chile. Here it occurs in a wide variety of shallow fresh waters with submerged vegetation, from the lowlands up to 3,700 metres.

The African pochard occurs from the Cape to the Ethiopian highlands on water bodies with or without emergent vegetation. They are suspected to have been strong migrants in the past but the construction of numerous farm dams seems to allow them a more sedentary lifestyle. They reach highest concentrations in Africa's central plateaus and in the south-western winter rainfall region.

This bird is sociable and gregarious. It has been seen in groups of up to 5,000. The clutch consists of six to fifteen eggs.

 

This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size may be moderately small to large, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

 

The South American population of this species has gone through a large decline, possibly due to habitat degradation (siltation caused by soil erosion degrades the rich macrophyte waterbodies favoured by the species) (Kear 2005b). In Africa this species is threatened through the transformation of wetlands into agricultural land (del Hoyo et al.1992, Kear 2005b) and through entanglement in gill nets (Kear 2005b). The species is also susceptible to avian botulism, so may be threatened by future outbreaks of the disease (van Heerden 1974).

 

The nest is a basin-shaped construction of plant material that is usually well hidden in tall emergent vegetation such as papyrus, reeds or sedges, either above the water, along the bank or a little way from the water in tall grass (Kear 2005b). Nests have also occasionally been reported in exposed positions in sedge, on dam walls, in old antbear holes and in old nests of other water birds (Brown et al. 1982).

 

Rarely seen in captive wildfowl collections. Ringsize for captive bred birds is 11mm.

 

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Above: male African subspecies Netta erythrophthalma brunnea

 

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Above: female African subspecies, Netta erythrophthalma brunnea

 

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Above: female African subspecies Netta erythrophthalma brunnea

 

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Above: African subspecies Netta erythrophthalma brunnea

 

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Above: male South American subspecies Netta erythrophthalma erythrophthalma

 

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Above: female South American subspecies Netta erythrophthalma erythrophthalma

 

Above: African subspecies, Netta erythrophthalma brunnea

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