Maccoa duck

Maccoa duck
Oxyura maccoa

(Photo from Bird Forum)

Common name:
Maccoa duck (en); pato-de-rabo-alçado-africano (pt); érismature maccoa (fr); pato malvasía africano (es); Afrikanische ruderente (de)

Order Anseriformes
Family Anatidae

The Maccoa duck is found in two discrete areas within sub-Saharan Africa, one in East Africa and the Ethiopian highlands, in Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania, and another in southern Africa, in Angola, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

These birds are46-51 cm long and weigh 450-820 g.

They breed in small temporary and permanent inland freshwater lakes, preferring those that are shallow and nutrient-rich with extensive emergent vegetation such as reeds and cattails. They also breeds on man-made habitats, such as small farm wetlands and sewage basins. Outside the breeding season they wander over larger, deeper lakes and brackish lagoons. This species is present from sea level up to an altitude of 3.000 m.

Maccoa ducks feed mainly on benthic invertebrates, such as fly larvae and pupae, crustaceans such as ostracods and Daphnia, Tubifex worms and fresh water mollucs. They also feed on algae and the seeds of aquatic plants such as Persicaria and Polygonum.

These birds can breed all year round. Male are polygamous, mating with up to 8 females that can nest simultaneously within his territory. The females build the nests, consisting of bulky cups made of leaves of stems from aquatic vegetation, placed over emergent vegetation such as reeds, bulrushes or sedges. They can also use old nests of red-knobbed coot Fulica cristata or  great crested grebe Podiceps cristatus. Each female lays 2-9 white eggs, which she incubates alone for 25-27 days. The chicks leave the nest soon after hatching and start diving and feeding for themselves immediately, relying on their mother for protection during 2-5 weeks.

IUCN status – NT (Near-Threatened)
The Maccoa duck has a very large breeding range, but the global population is estimated at just 6.000-7.900 individuals. The population in East Africa has suffered severe declines, perhaps by 50% in the last 10 years, while the larger southern population appears stable after a period of range expansion and possible population increase but is considered smaller than previously thought and declines may have begun. Overall the population is suspected to be declining at a slow to moderate rate, mostly due to pollution, habitat loss through drainage and conversion of wetland areas for agriculture, and accidental mortality from entanglement in gill nets. Hunting and poaching, competition with alien benthic fish and habitat alteration by introduced plants all pose less serious threats.

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