Black Headed Duck

The Black Headed Duck lives in swamps lakes and marshes in North Chile, Paraguay, and North Argentina, feeding by dabbling on water plants and insects. The black headed duck is an obligate brood parasite. This is the most basal living member of its subfamily, and it lacks the stiff tail and swollen bill of its relatives. Overall much resembling a fairly typical diving duck.

Black Headed Duck

Black Headed Duck

Male – The male Black headed Duck has a black head and upper neck, dark-brown eyes, bluish-grey beak with black dorsal stripe and tip, red around the base of the beak during breeding season, dark-brown upper-parts and tail, lighter-brown under-parts, brown wings, and legs and feet are grey.
Female – The female is similar except has a brown head and neck with a dark-brown crown, whitish chin and stripe running through the eye.

Size: – Typical Adult is 14-15 inches.

Food: – Aquatic plants, seeds, insects, and invertebrates.

Habitat: – Swamps, lakes, and marshes in South America – North Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay, south-east Brazil, and North Argentina. Black-headed Ducks in the most southerly regions may move further north during Winter.

Breeding Season: – Eggs are laid from September to December.

Eggs: – 5 to 16 (white color) laid in other bird’s nest.

Notes: – The Black headed Duck is also called the Cuckoo Duck as it will lay its eggs in the nests of other birds such as the Rosy-billed Pochard or other duck,and also the nests of gulls or birds of prey. When the ducklings hatch they are completely independent after only a few hours and are able to fend for themselves. The Black-headed Duck is the only member of the genus Heteronetta but is allied to the Stiff-tail ducks of the subfamily Oxyurinae. These ducks are abundant.

The different types of wild ducks can be grouped into puddle, aka “dabbling” and diving ducks. The dabblers mostly feed in smaller bodies of shallow water or along shorelines, where they are able to tip their bodies forward to reach their food on the bottom. There are divers who feed in deeper water where they dive and pursue their quarry. Some of these birds, the Harlequin Duck for example, actually dives to the bottom of fast-flowing waters and feeds on life forms attached to rocks.

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