Harteman Wildfowl Aviaries | educating since 1998

Madagascar teal (Bernier's teal)

Anas bernieri

Madagascartaling / Bernierente / Sarcelle malgache


Update December 2021, as published in the British Waterfowl Association magazine:

Madagascar teal Anas bernieri (article 1/2), by Charles van de Kerkhof & Jan Harteman



Anas bernieri is endemic to western Madagascar. Its range encompasses a narrow coastal strip along the whole of the west coast and the extreme north-east (Langrand 1995; F. Razafindrajao per R. Safford in litt. 1999; ZICOMA 1999; H.G. Young in litt. 2007). It is known to breed at many sites in Menabe and Melaky on the central west coast, and at Ankazomborona on the far north-west coast (Razafindrajao et al. 2001): 100-500 were estimated to be present between Antsalova and Morondava in July-August 1993 (Morris and Hawkins 1998)and a flock of 67 was seen near Tambohoranoin 1998 (Anon. 1998c); and a new breeding population of 200-300 individuals was discovered at Ankazomborona, north of Mahajanga and some 720 km north of the Masoarivo breeding site. The population in Baie de la Mahajamba was estimated to be 150-200 birds in November-December 2003 (Joiner et al. 2006). The total population is estimated at 1,500-2,500 individuals (G. Young in litt. 2002 to Wetlands International 2002).


The total population is estimated at 1,500-2,500 individuals (H.G. Young in litt. 2002), roughly equivalent to 1,000-1,700 mature individuals.


Behaviour Birds breed during the wet season months of December to March (Joiner et al. 2006; Kear 2005b), and moult at the beginning of the dry season when they become flightless for a period (Young 2006; Razafindrajao 2000). They then move short distances to coastal areas in search of suitable habitat for the dry season (Kear 2005b). During the breeding season the species occurs in solitary, dispersed pairs, but during the non-breeding season it is more gregarious and occurs in groups of up to 40 individuals (Scott and Rose 1996). Pair-bonds may last through consecutive seasons and investment by males is high and involves the protection of the female and young (Young 2006)Habitat Breeding The species breeds only in seasonally flooded, non-tidal areas dominated by Black Mangrove Avicennia marina, on the landward side of littoral forest (Joiner et al. 2006; Young 2006; H.G. Young in litt. 2007; Razafindrajao 2000)Non-breeding During its post-breeding moult, during which time it is flightless (Young 2006), the species seeks out lakes that are rich in aquatic vegetation, and in the subsequent dry season it is found in coastal wetland areas of shallow water and nutrient-rich mud, including saline and brackish areas (Kear 2005b; Razafindrajao 2000). Here it prefers open rather than vegetated wetlands (Young 2006) and is most often found in coastal mangrove forest, bays, estuaries and shallow saline wetlands just inland of mangroves (tannes), though it can also be found less frequently in marshes, dense deciduous forest, areas of open water and herbaceous savannah, especially where Hyparrhenia and Heteropogon grasses are present (Joiner et al. 2006)Diet Little is know about its diet except during moulting when it feeds on terrestrial and aquatic insects including Hymenoptera, Coleoptera, and Diptera, in addition to the seeds of various plant families and the leaves and stems of monocotyledons (Kear 2005b). It usually feeds by dabbling in the mud while wading (Morris and Hawkins 1998; Young 1995)Breeding Site Nesting takes place in holes in Avicennia marina mangrove trees (Joiner et al. 2006; Kear 2005b) that have been created by storm damage or decay (Joiner et al. 2006). Ducklings fledge at 45-49 days (Young 2006).


Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix II. It has been recorded from Baly Bay National Park, Tsimanampetsotsa Strict Reserve (ZICOMA 1999), Analabe Private Reserve, Kirindy Mitea National Park and Lac Bedo Ramsar Site (H.G. Young in litt. 2007). A captive-breeding programme started in 1993 (Morris and Hawkins 1998; Young 1998), and these birds are used to study breeding behaviour (Young 2006). Studies on the ecology of the wild birds (including provision of nest boxes; R. Lewis pers comm. 2001) and a conservation programme at Lac Antsamaka (in Manambolomaty Ramsar Site) have also been initiated. Flightless birds moulting wing feathers were caught and ringed annually in May and June at Antsamaky (Young 2006), but birds are no longer congregating there (H. G. Young in litt. 2012).


In 1993 Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust started a captive breeding programme for the birds. Four wild teal were caught, but all turned out to be male, as they are very difficult to sex. The breeding program could finally start with the arrival of two females in 1995. This led to the very first nest of Madagascar teal ever bred in captivity in 1998.

The birds have been under close observation to learn more about their breeding cycle. These observation have proven useful as there have been many teal born in captivity ever since.

The breeding success at the Zoo has enabled captive colonies to be set up at dozens of other institutes.


Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey the distribution and abundance of the species through standardised national surveys and/or the sharing of data between organisations, and search for new breeding sites on the west coast, e.g. north of Mahajanga (Thorstrom and Rabarisoa 1997; M. Rabenandrasana in litt. 2007). Study its ecological needs and complete further ecological studies at Ankazomborona (Thorstrom and Rabarisoa 1997).  Develop captive breeding programmes and conduct research into the species's reproductive ecology; Ankazomborona may be a particularly suitable study site (Joiner et al. 2006). Ensure adequate protection of nesting, moulting and dry-season sites (Young 2006). Monitor movements using satellite telemetry (H. G. Young in litt. 2012).



Above: adult pair of Madagascar teal



Above: adult pair of Madagascar teal



Above: adult male of Madagascar teal



Above: adult male of Madagascar teal



Above: adult male of Madagascar teal



Above: adult pair of Madagascar teal, the female (right) inciting the male





Above: Madagascar teal ducklings at Harteman Wildfowl (2018).


Above: territorial behaviour of Madagascart teal


Above: Madagascar teal copulating


Above: Madagascar teal ducklings, captive bred, at day 1


Above: Madagascar teal ducklings, captive bred, at day 2


Above: Madagascar teal parent rearing ducklings at Harteman Wildfowl (2018)

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