Amsterdam wigeon

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Amsterdam wigeon
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Anseriformes
Family: Anatidae
Subfamily: Anatinae
Genus: Anas
Species: A. marecula
Binomial name
Anas marecula
Olson & Jouventin, 1996
Orthographic projection centred over Ile Amsterdam.png
Location of Île Amsterdam

The Amsterdam wigeon (Anas marecula), also known as the Amsterdam Island duck or Amsterdam duck,[2] was a species of anatid waterfowl, endemic to Île Amsterdam (Amsterdam Island), French Southern Territories. This flightless species is only known from bones and was presumably driven extinct by visiting sealers and the rats they introduced.[3]

A 1696 sighting by William de Vlaming of "four-footed animals" in the reeds of Amsterdam Island may have been of this duck, as there are no native land mammals on the island.[3] No naturalist visited Amsterdam Island until 1874, by which time it was infested with rats from visiting ships, and the duck was extinct.[4]

The first bones of this species to be discovered, in 1955–56, were thought to most closely resemble those of a garganey.[3] In 1987 bones of at least 33 individuals were recovered from rock cavities, revealing a very small duck with a short pointed bill like a wigeon's.[5] Strong legs and reduced breastbone and wings show it was flightless. The skull's reduced salt glands show it was drinking little seawater, and its bones were recovered from sea level up to 500 m, suggesting it was not living on the coast.[6] It was named Anas marecula, after the former widgeon genus Mareca.[5]

During his visit to Île Saint-Paul (St Paul Island) on 2 February 1793, explorer John Barrow mentioned the presence of "a small brown duck, not much larger than a thrush" that was "the favourite food of the five sealers living on the island".[3] Because Amsterdam Island is 80 km away, these ducks would represent an independent case of dispersal and flightlessness, similar to the Amsterdam widgeon, but a different species.[5]


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Anas marecula". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ "IOC World Bird List". Retrieved 15 August 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c d Bourne, W.R.P., David, A.C.F. and Jouanin, C. (1983). "Probable Garganey on St. Paul and Amsterdam Islands, Indian Ocean". Wildfowl 34: 127–129. 
  4. ^ Hume, Julian P.; Walters, Michael (2012). Extinct Birds. Poyser. pp. 48–49. ISBN 9781408158623. 
  5. ^ a b c Olson, S.L. and Jouventin, P. (1996). "A new species of small flightless duck from Amsterdam Island, southern Indian Ocean (Anatidae: Anas)" (PDF). The Condor 98 (1): 1–9. doi:10.2307/1369501. 
  6. ^ Martinez, J (1987). "Un nouveau cas probable d’endemisme insulaire: le canard de l'Île Amsterdam". Documents des Laboratoires de Géologie de la Faculté des Sciences de Lyon 99: 211–219.