Black-headed duck

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Black-headed duck
Heteronetta atricapilla blackheadedduck.jpg
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Anseriformes
Family: Anatidae
Genus: Heteronetta
Salvadori, 1865
Species: H. atricapilla
Binomial name
Heteronetta atricapilla
(Merrem, 1841)
Heteronetta atricapilla distribution.PNG
Natural Range of Heteronetta atricapilla

The black-headed duck (Heteronetta atricapilla) is a South American duck allied to the stiff-tailed ducks in the tribe Oxyurini of the family Anatidae. It is the only member of the genus Heteronetta.

Description[edit]

Heteronetta atricapilla

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,[2] its plumage and other peculiarities indicate it is not a very close relative of these, but rather the product of convergent evolution in the ancestors of the stiff-tailed ducks.[3] It is a small, dark duck, the male with a black head and mantle and a paler flank and belly, and the female pale brown overall.

Distribution and habitat[edit]

They live in swamps lakes and marshes in northern Chile, Paraguay, and northern Argentina, feeding by dabbling on water plants and insects.

Brooding behavior[edit]

The black-headed duck is an obligate brood parasite (meaning the female does not build a nest). It lays its eggs in the nests of other birds, instead, earning it the nickname cuckoo duck.[4] The hosts are (particularly) rosy-billed pochard (Netta peposaca), other ducks, coots (Fulica species), and occasionally even gulls (such as 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 few hours are completely independent, leaving their broodmates and fending for themselves, because the brood parasitic passerines (family Viduidae and genus Molothrus) are altricial, while black-headed duck ducklings are precocial.

The black-headed duck is not considered threatened by the IUCN.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b BirdLife International (2012). "Heteronetta atricapilla". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ Livezey, Bradley C. (1986). "A phylogenetic analysis of recent anseriform genera using morphological characters" (PDF). Auk. 103 (4): 737–754. 
  3. ^ McCracken, Kevin G.; Harshman, John; McClellan, David A. & Afton, Alan D. (1999). "Data Set Incongruence and Correlated Character Evolution: An Example of Functional Convergence in the Hind-Limbs of Stifftail Diving Ducks" (PDF). Systematic Biology. 48 (4): 683–714. doi:10.1080/106351599259979. PMID 12066296. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 June 2011. 
  4. ^ David Attenborough, Nature of the Cuckoo Duck, The Life of Birds, BBC Episode 9, 19 minutes ff.

External links[edit]