White-headed Duck (Oxyura leucocephala)

The White-headed Duck is a diving waterbird species found in the wetlands of southwestern Europe, northwestern Africa, and western Asia. It is a medium-sized bird, measuring about 45-48 cm in length and weighing between 460-700 grams. Males have a distinctive white head and neck, which contrasts with their blackish-brown body, while females are more muted in coloration.

This species was once widespread across its range, but since the mid-twentieth century, their populations have declined dramatically due to habitat loss, hunting, and pollution. Today, the White-headed Duck is listed as globally Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

White-headed Ducks inhabit shallow freshwater wetlands, lakes, and ponds, often with dense vegetation covering the water surface. They are primarily carnivorous, feeding on small fish, insects, crustaceans, and mollusks. They are also known for their diving abilities, which allows them to find food underwater.

Their breeding season usually starts in April and May, with males building nests close to the water's edge. The female lays about six to ten eggs, which hatch after an incubation period of around 26-29 days. Both parents take turns incubating the eggs and raising the chicks, which leave the nest after only a few hours of hatching.

Conservation efforts are being made to protect the remaining populations of White-headed Ducks. Some of the measures include the restoration of wetland habitats, the restriction of hunting, and the ban on the use of lead ammunition, which can poison and kill these birds. Additionally, captive breeding programs have been established to reintroduce the species to suitable habitats where they have disappeared.

In conclusion, the White-headed Duck is an exquisite bird that has faced many challenges related to human activities. This species's conservation status highlights the importance of protecting wetlands and other critical habitats to ensure the continued survival of birdlife. Conservation efforts on both a local and global scale are necessary to secure the future of this species and other endangered waterbirds.

Other names

Oxyura leucocephala



White-headed Duck

malvasia capblanca




kachnice bělohlavá

Hvidhovedet Skarveand



Érismature à tête blanche


Gobbo rugginoso


baltagalvė stačiauodegė


sterniczka (zwyczajna)



Beloglava plavokljuna patka

potápnica bielohlavá

Malvasía cabeciblanca



савка білоголова


kékcsőrű réce


baltgalvas zilknābis