The Mascarene Teal bird, also known as the Mauritian Teal, is a species of small dabbling duck endemic to the Mascarene islands of the Indian Ocean. Historically, they were found on Mauritius and have been extinct on the island since the 17th century.
Today, the Mascarene Teal can only be found on the island of Madagascar and is listed as a vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The bird is threatened by habitat loss, hunting, and introduced predators such as cats and rats. Conservation efforts are underway to protect their remaining habitats and to control predator populations.
The Mascarene Teal is a small duck, measuring around 30 cm in length and weighing approximately 200-300 grams. It has a distinctive plumage, with males having a chestnut head and neck, a black breast, and a mottled brown back and wings. Females have a duller plumage, with a brownish-grey head, neck and breast, and a mottled brown back and wings. Both sexes have a bright blue patch on their upper wings, noticeable during flight.
Like most dabbling ducks, the Mascarene Teal feeds primarily on aquatic vegetation, insects, and small invertebrates. During the breeding season, the ducks form pairs and build nests in dense vegetation near water bodies. The female typically lays around 6-9 eggs, which hatch after an incubation period of roughly 30 days. The chicks are precocial, meaning they are fully mobile and able to feed themselves shortly after hatching.
Due to its restricted distribution and small population size, the Mascarene Teal is a critically endangered species. Conservation efforts include the establishment of protected areas in Madagascar and the removal of invasive predators from the remaining habitats. Captive breeding programs also help to maintain the species' genetic diversity and ensure its long-term survival.