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White-headed Duck

Oxyura leucocephala (Scopoli, 1769)

Савка | Ақбас үйрек
spring male

2015-06-20
Almaty region, Sorbulak
© Gennadiy Dyakin

Description

The male of White-headed Duck in breeding plumage has mostly brownish-rusty color with little blackish-brown strikes and spots. The head is white with the black crown and black collar. The flight feathers are brownish, the axillaries are white, the tail is black; the upper tail coverts are dark-rusty, undertail is buffy with black strikes. The breast and flanks with the brown-rusty and black washing cross strips. The abdomen is grayish-brown. The female is distinguished from the male by the head's color; the female head is mostly dark-brown with the quite broad white strips above the eye and on the neck; the collar is grayish with brownish spots; the uppertail coverts are cross-striped. The male's bill is bright-blue, the female's one is grayish-blue; the legs are grey slightly greenish tinged. The eyes are nut-brown. Weight 510-890 grams, wing length 145-170 mm.

Distribution

Before the White-headed Duck bred widely on fresh or slightly salty lakes of Kazakhstan. Recently occasionally found in central and western areas, in Naurzum Reserve, and also in Northern Kazakhstan. Not found in lower reaches of Syrdarya river. One male recorded 14 July 2001 on Shoptykol lake near Zharma station. A brood recorded 11 June 2004 on Alakol lake. Over the past 10 years, its numbers increased. Widespread on migration. A total of 2833 birds recorded on Kyzylkol lake near Karatau ridge 14-17 September 2001, almost 1800 mid-September and 800 birds mid-October 2002, and 2000 in September 2003.

Biology

The White-headed Duck is rare breeding migrant. Inhabits fresh and slightly salty deep lakes with reed-beds and open water on plains. Appears very late, rarely mid March, mainly April – end May. Migrates in small flocks of up to two dozen; migration probably mainly at night. Breeds in separate pairs. Nest is built from fresh reed leaves and rarely lined with down; rests on water in reed-beds or on floating old reed stems. Clutches of 5-7 very large eggs end May – mid-July. Juveniles recorded mid-June – end August. I.A. Dolgushin (1960) suggested White-headed Duck does not brood eggs constantly as they can incubate independently. Barely noticeable autumn migration from mid-September to end October; some birds linger until mid-November.

References

Gavrilov E. I., Gavrilov A. E. "The Birds of Kazakhstan". Almaty, 2005. "Птицы Казахстана" том 1. "Наука". Алма-Ата, 1960. Э.И.Гаврилов. "Фауна и распространение птиц Казахстана". Алматы, 1999.

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