Black-Headed Duck – Profile | Traits | Facts | Habitat | Breeding

Black-headed duck

The black-headed duck, scientific name Heteronetta atricapilla is a South American duck allied to the stiff-tailed geese within the tribe Oxyurini of the family Anatidae. It is the one member of the genus Heteronetta.

Geographic Range

Heteronetta atricapilla is present in South America in southern Brazil, Chile, and Argentina. Heteronetta atricapilla is {a partially} migratory species.

Northern breeding populations are sedentary, whereas southern breeding populations migrate north through the austral winter. These southern populations migrate into Bolivia, southern Brazil, and Uruguay.


Black-headed geese are present in marshes, bogs, swamps, fens, peatlands, and everlasting freshwater lakes. Black-headed geese are present in terrestrial environments and semipermanent marshes containing a considerable amount of flowers.

black-headed duck, scientific name Heteronetta atricapilla

Black-headed duck Description

This is probably the most basal residing member of its subfamily, and it lacks the stiff tail and swollen bill of its family.

Overall a lot resembling a reasonably typical diving duck, its plumage and different peculiarities point out it isn’t a really shut relative of those, however moderately the product of convergent evolution within the ancestors of the stiff-tailed geese.

The black-headed duck is a small, darkish duck, the male with a black head and mantle and a paler flank and stomach, and the feminine pale brown general.
Black-headed geese are blackish-brown on their breast and underside, with blackheads, wings, and backs. The higher mandible is black with a yellow edge and the lower mandible is darkish yellow.

Black-headed geese have darkish gray legs with yellowish-green shading alongside the tarsi. Adult females are bigger than males. Wings of adults are flecked with small, white spots or they’re stable grey-brown.

Juvenile geese are distinguished from adults by having a lighter colored vertical line above the attention, extending from the attention to the crown.

Black-headed geese moult twice every year. In August and September birds moult into their nuptial plumage. In December and January, the nuptial plumage replaces the winter (non-nuptial) plumage.


They live in swamps, lakes, and marshes in central Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay, northern Argentina, and southern Brazil, feeding by dabbling on water vegetation and bugs.


Specific information on black-headed duck lifespan and longevity was not out there. However, the survival of different members of the family Anatidae is variable.

From 65 to 80% of ducklings die of their first year. After this important year, the survival rate will increase. Most birds that attain maturity live for less than one other 1 to 2 years. The most recorded lifespan throughout the family Anatidae is 28 years.

black-headed duck, scientific name Heteronetta atricapilla

Black-headed duck Behavior

Black-headed geese are migratory, flying in flocks of as many as 40 birds. Black-headed geese feed largely in early morning, relaxation on land within the daytime, and swim largely through the night.

During the night female and male black-headed geese patrol close by nest sites trying to find appropriate hosts. Preferred host nests are coots, since their nests are common in marshy areas.

Home Range

Since black-headed geese don’t make nests, they don’t seem to be territorial. They move all through a big range to be able to seek for host nests and don’t stay inside any explicit home range.


Male black-headed geese talk with potential mates by stretching their necks, they also use vocalizations to some extent.

Black-headed duck Food Habits

Black-headed geese feed largely within the morning by diving, head-dipping, dabbling, and mud-filtering. Black-headed geese eat largely plant materials, comparable to seeds, underground tubers, green herbaceous foliage of aquatic grasses and sedges, seagrasses, and submerged pond weeds. They may additionally eat some aquatic invertebrates.

black-headed duck, scientific name Heteronetta atricapilla

Black-headed duck Predation

The predominant predators of black-headed duck younger are different geese whose nests have been parasitized by black-headed geese.

Almost half of their eggs die as a result of host geese acknowledge the eggs and destroy them. Black-headed duck eggs will not be camouflaged; they’re white and fairly conspicuous.

Black-headed geese are hunted by people for meals and plumage. Adults may additionally be preyed on by massive predators comparable to raptors. Their darkish feather color and patterning helps to camouflage them in wetland vegetation.


Black-headed geese are brood parasites, they depend on different duck species to incubate and supply shelter for his or her eggs.

This negatively impacts the hosts for the reason that host species should allocate energy to hatch the overseas eggs, which can lead to a lower variety of their very own eggs hatching and their very own hatchlings surviving to maturity.

black-headed duck, scientific name Heteronetta atricapilla

Black-headed duck Reproduction

During courtship, males stretch their neck by inflating the bilateral cheek pouches and the higher esophagus to be able to entice feminine mates. Black-headed geese are promiscuous, with each man and woman taking a number of mates through the breeding season.

Black-headed geese are brood parasites. Females lay their eggs within the nests of different species. Black-headed geese deposits their eggs in nests around 1 meter above the water and lay 2 eggs, on average, per nest. The egg survival rate is around a 3rd of the total variety of eggs laid. Black-headed geese breed twice a year, in fall and spring.

The black-headed duck is an obligate brood parasite, that means the feminine doesn’t construct a nest. It lays its eggs within the nests of different birds, as a substitute, incomes it the nickname cuckoo duck.

The hosts are notably rosy-billed pochard (Netta peposaca), different geese, coots (Fulica species), and sometimes even gulls (such because the brown-hooded gull), and birds of prey. Unlike some cuckoos, neither the chicks nor adults destroy the eggs or kill the chicks of the host.

Instead, after a 21-day incubation, the ducklings fledge and after a number of hours are utterly unbiased, leaving their broodmares and fending for themselves. In distinction with the brood parasitic passerines, whose younger are altricial, black-headed duck ducklings are precocial.

Black-headed geese don’t construct nests or incubate their eggs; as a substitute, they’re brood parasites and depend on different duck species for these duties.

Black-headed duck adults and new child chicks don’t hurt the eggs or chicks of the host species. The eggs are incubated for roughly 21 days by their hosts. A couple of hours after hatching, black-headed duck chicks are able to strolling and feeding on their very own.


The black-headed duck isn’t thought of threatened by the IUCN.

black-headed duck, scientific name Heteronetta atricapilla

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