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White-winged ducks from Moluccan islands

Posted by deheeg VIP 

At the Natural History Museum at Tring two specimen (male and female) show very much white as you would expect from the Sumatran/ Javan population. These skins were labelled location MoluccasBased on current knowledge, these birds must have been collected in Sumatra or Java in the past. 


The specimens as mentioned above were received at NHM Tring  by G.A. Frank in 1864. Frank, who was a dealer in natural history objects in Amsterdam, sold specimens to museums. Frank himself did not go out to collect animals, but he bought them from people who did, and then sold them to collectors. He has also bought many "duplicates" from Leiden and sold them to other museums such as the English NHM. Because Frank did not collect himself, and therefore probably did not always know where the objects came from (had been collected), he would occasionally have made up something, or made mistakes, when it came to the origin. It is therefore quite possible that these two specimens originally came from Leiden, via Frank. Perhaps at that time Frank had many birds from Leiden which indeed came from the Moluccas, and therefore he thought these ducks should come from there. We will probably never know. For the time being it is the most safe to assume that the Moluccas mentioned on the labels are incorrect (Hein van Grouw, 2019). 


The duck is a resident species which does not venture far from its forest habitat other than to visit feeding waters; therefore it would seem most unlikely there has been a recent population south east of Sumatra, there having been no record of this duck on Borneo or the Celebes islands. The barrier would have been the sea journey - so even in the distant past when there was a land bridge from Malaysia to Sumatra/ Java there was no such bridge to Sulawesi and eastwards to New Guinea (M.J.S.Mackenzie, 2019)



Above: White-winged wood ducks (male on top, female on bottom), possibly collected in Sumatra/ Java, but mislabelled from the Moluccas, by G.A. Frank. 

Specimens from the Natural History Museum at Tring, UK. Photo by Jan Harteman



Above: White-winged wood ducks (close-up label), possibly collected in Sumatra/ Java, but mislabelled from the Moluccas, by G.A. Frank. 

Specimens from the Natural History Museum at Tring, UK. Photo by Jan Harteman


Read more at this page.



A note on the white spot on the diving duck's chin

Posted by deheeg VIP 

A black spot in our knowledge about the relationship of diving ducks?

Personal observations show that adult males of a number of diving ducks (genus Aythya) show a white spot under their chin, just at the base of their bill. Although not much is written about these spots in literature, museum skins show the same white spots in the same species. Canvasback, common pochard, ferruginous duck, Baer's pochard and Australian white-eyed pochard show this spot, to name a few. Other closely related ducks such as redhead, tufted duck, ring-necked duck and Madagascar pochard do not show this spot. 


As this intrigues me, next questions came to my mind are:

  • Can the presence (or absence) of the white spot be lead back to only one Aythya-species?
  • If yes, how did it end up in the other species?   
  • Is there a correlation between the morphologic character and the genetic relationship between species within the genus of Aythya

Does anyone know more about this topic and can you recommend sources to me?

Please let me know. 


From my personal observations/ skin studies: 


White-eyed pochards

Ferruginous duck

Aythya nyroca

Baer's pochard

Aythya baeri

Australian white-eyed pochard

Aythya australis

Madagascar pochard

Aythya innotata

White spot

White spot

White spot

No white spot


Red-headed pochards

Common pochard

Aythya ferina


Aythya valisineria


Aythya americana

White spot

White spot

No white spot


I have no valid data yet on the white spot in scaups (Aythya novaeseelandiae, Aythya affinisAythya marila), and the closely related tufted duck (Aythya fuligula) and ring-necked duck (Aythya collaris). 



Above: male Baer's pochard (Aythya baeri) shows the white spot on its chin. 

Specimen photographed at Natural History Museum at Tring, UK (Harteman, 2019). 



Above: these two males Madagascar pochard (Aythya innotata) do not show the white spot on their chin. 
Specimens photographed at Natural History Museum at Tring, UK (Harteman, 2019). 



Above: Redhead (Aythya americana) at top and common pochard (Aythya ferina) at bottom. 
The redhead does not show the white spot, but the common pochard does.

Canvasbacks show the spot as well. 

Specimens photographed at Natural History Museum at Tring, UK (Harteman, 2019). 



Above: Baer's pochard (Aythya baeri) at top and ferruginous duck (Aythya nyroca) at bottom; both show the white spot. 

Specimens photographed at Natural History Museum at Tring, UK (Harteman, 2019). 


Direct link: https://www.harteman.nl/pages/aythya 



Artificial wildfowl nestbox designs

Posted by jan VIP 



Torrent ducks in aviculture

Posted by jan VIP 

Keeping torrent ducks in aviculture is not a daily affair. Alejandra Mora Vallejo sent us some interesting notes and photos from Chile!

Check out her story at this page. 





A brief history of the first white-winged wood ducks in captivity

Posted by jan VIP 


This might be the first captive breeding pair of white-winged wood ducks ever (1936, D.G. Schuyl). Pictured in "Siergevogelte" (1941, van Gink). Five ducklings were reared as described in Peter Scott's Waterfowl of the World, Volume III (1959). 
A brief history of the first birds in captivity is summarized here



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