The Laysan Duck (Anas laysanensis), also known as the Laysan teal because of its small size, is an endangered dabbling duck endemic to the Hawaiian Islands. Fossil evidence reveals that Laysan ducks once lived across the entire archipelago, but today survive only on three small, isolated islands.
Appearance: – The Laysan Duck has a reddish-brown plumage with dark markings, and white eye-patch. The white feathers around the eye and on the head varies and some males have a faint green iridescence on the head and neck. The male’s beak is dark-green with black blotching while the female’s beak is brownish-orange with black blotching. The wing has a purple-green speculum, and the legs and feet are orange. Both sexes are similar.
Size: – Typical Adult is about 16 inches
Food: – Aquatic plants, algae, seeds, insects such as brine flies.
Habitat: – Shallow lakes and shore on the Hawaiian island of Laysan.
Breeding Season: – April to August.
Eggs: – About 4 (greenish-white color).
Notes: – The Laysan Duck is a dabbling duck which is also called the Laysan Teal. This duck used to be found throughout the Hawaiian Islands but is now only resident on the Layson island of Hawaii. The decline of this duck occurred when the Hawaiian Islands were first colonized by the Polynesians along with non-native mammals such as rats which killed off many of these birds. As a result these ducks are listed as ‘critically endangered’. In 2004, 42 birds were moved to the nearby island of Midway Atoll with great success.
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.