The Ferruginous Duck, also known as Aythya nyroca, is a species of diving duck found in Europe, Asia, and northern Africa. The name “Ferruginous” comes from the Latin word “Ferrugo,” which means “rust.”
These ducks are medium-sized and have a wingspan ranging from 70 to 82 cm. Their head and neck are dark brown, and their breast and belly are white. They have bright yellow eyes, and the male’s bill is blue-gray while the female’s is brown.
Ferruginous Ducks live in freshwater habitats such as gravel pits, marshes, and drainage ditches. They are omnivorous, feeding on a vast variety of aquatic invertebrates, seeds, and fish. The ducks use their broad bills to filter muddy water and mud seeking nutritious plants such as tubers and roots.
Their breeding season starts in April, and they usually lay around six to twelve eggs in nests hidden in vegetation. The female incubates the eggs for about 24 days while the male patrols the area. Once the chicks hatch, they are led to the water by the mother duck.
Ferruginous ducks are known for their unique courtship displays. Males perform “rolling” displays, where they twist and turn in the air before tumbling into the water. These displays attract females and also help establish and defend their territories.
Ferruginous Ducks are classified as “Near Threatened” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Urbanization, habitat loss, and hunting have been the main factors behind this decline. Conservation initiatives have been put in place to safeguard these birds, including the restoration of wetland habitats and captive breeding programs.
In summary, the Ferruginous Duck is a unique and fascinating species of diving duck. With their striking appearance and quirky behaviors, they capture the attention of wildlife enthusiasts worldwide. However, their population decline is concerning, and efforts must be made to secure their future survival in the wild.