White Crested

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The Patagonian crested duck (Lophonetta specularioides specularioides) has a grey chin, neck and face, but the body is a mixture of brown and grey feathers giving a mottled look. Its eyes are red with a black pupil in the middle. The feathers surrounding the eye are a dark brown or blackish colour. The tail feathers are also dark and sometimes even black. It has a black beak and dark grey to black legs and webbed feet. The Patagonian crested duck moults twice a year and also has an annual wing feather moult. It is a medium sized duck that is around 50-60cm in length. Females and males weigh about 1kg but usually the males are slightly bigger.

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Range

The Patagonian crested duck lives in South America. It lives in Chile, Patagonia, Argentina and the Falkland Islands. It is a bird that can live by the coast or in freshwater. It lives in marshland, swamps, Lakes and pools or sheltered bays on the coast. In the winter the Patagonian crested duck doesn’t migrate but just finds a sheltered place to stay during colder months. But for high altitude birds as well as high latitude bird it usually involves dispersing out along the South American coast.

Diet

The Patagonian Crested duck eats aquatic invertebrates such as insects and their larvae, crustaceans and molluscs. It also eats small amounts of aquatic plants like filamentous algae(below) which is common in most ponds. The diet for newly hatched birds is much the same as their parents. To get their food Patagonian crested ducks dive down to get the algae or invertebrates off the bottom of the lake or pond. Their tail feathers go upright and their feet stay level with the water. Depending on where they live or if they live in fresh water or salt water (i.e. the ocean) will contribute to the type of food of it and its quantities at given times of the year.

Predators

One of the main predators of the Patagonian crested duck is the black crowned night heron. This bird is the most widespread heron in the world whose habitat spans across five continents, including most of North America. The black crowned night heron is a medium sized bird weighing between 700-1000g, with a short neck and a thick black bill. It has a black back and cap with grey wings and white under parts. The adult ducks don’t have very many other predators but the younger ducklings do. The Skua is a sea bird, which takes the young Patagonian ducklings. It is generally a medium to large bird in size. Its plumage is either grey or brown. Quite often they have some white markings on their wing feathers. They look a bit like big dark gulls. The skuas beak is relatively long and hooked. Their dark webbed feet also have some sharp claws. The Skua migrates from Antarctica each year where it steals food from bigger birds and other gulls and seabirds.

Reproduction

The reproductive season of the Patagonian crested duck, varies according to geographical location. In the Andes it is mainly between January and March, whereas in more southern areas it tends to be later, between October and December. The preferred nesting habitat of the Patagonian crested duck is on the ground in tall grass or shrubbery on small islets or lake shores, but occasionally further away from water. The nest is built by a solitary pair and is made up of vegetation and lined with their soft breast feathers.

A clutch of eggs is made up of between five and eight eggs, which are cream coloured, weigh about 56g and are 63x43mm in size. A double brood is quite common. The incubation of the egg is around thirty days, in which the female sits on the eggs. After incubation the eggs hatch synchronously. Once hatched both of the parents tend to the ducklings. The young Patagonian crested duck has many characteristics of a fully grown adult duck, although the juveniles have a smaller or even no crest. Another difference is that the face of the young birds is a browner colour than that of the adult, the abdomen is also much whiter and the mandible is a pinkish colour. The Patagonian crested duck fledges (leaves its parents) at around ten to eleven weeks old.

Conservation Status

Although the Patagonian crested duck is not an endangered species, many of its close family are, including the Andean crested duck which is extremely rare, even in captive collections. The Andean crested duck is very similar to the Patagonian Crested duck. Although the population for the world is unknown there are thought to be around ten thousand breeding pairs in the Falkland Islands.

Sources


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