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                White-Winged Duck

                White-Winged Duck

                Kingdom
                Phylum
                Class
                Order
                Family
                Genus
                SPECIES
                Asarcornis scutulata
                Population size
                350-1,500
                Life Span
                10-15 yrs
                WEIGHT
                2-4 kg
                LENGTH
                66-81 cm
                WINGSPAN
                116-153 cm

                White-winged ducks are among the world’s most endangered birds and are one of the biggest species of duck. In Assamese it is known as ‘Deo Hans’ or spirit duck because of its ghostly call. Its body is black and its head is white and thickly spotted with black, it has conspicuous white patches on its wings and orange or red eyes. The male and female look alike, the male having glossier feathers and being much larger and heavier.

                Distribution

                The White-winged duck used to be widely distributed in north-east India, Bangladesh, South East Asia, Java and Sumatra. Now it is extinct in Java. It is found in India only in the northeast, with the main populations in eastern Assam the nearby areas of Arunachal Pradesh. The key protected areas in this country are Dihing-Patkai Wildlife Sanctuary, Dibru-Saikhowa National Park, Namdapha National Park and Nameri National Park. This duck inhabits dense evergreen tropical forests, near swamps and rivers.

                White-Winged Duck habitat map

                Climate zones

                Habits and Lifestyle

                White-winged ducks cannot easily be seen in the wild, as they spend their time hidden in trees. They are usually found in pairs or groups of four to six, sometimes more than ten. They love shade and most of the day will find them in secluded jungle pools, sometimes perching on trees during the day. Being crepuscular, they are most active during dusk and dawn. At night their loud calls echo throughout the forest, from a distance, sounding like a ghost. These birds molt annual in September or October, being flightless for a fortnight, when they move into more densely forested swampy areas for protection from predators.

                Diet and Nutrition

                White-winged ducks are omnivores, they eat aquatic plants, seed, grain, rice, aquatic insects, snails, crustaceans, mollusks, snakes, frogs and fishes.

                Mating Habits

                MATING BEHAVIOR
                REPRODUCTION SEASON
                in Northern range: May, in India: February/March-July
                INCUBATION PERIOD
                33 days
                INDEPENDENT AGE
                14 weeks
                FEMALE NAME
                duck
                MALE NAME
                drake
                BABY NAME
                duckling
                BABY CARRYING
                16 eggs

                White-winged ducks are monogamous breeders. This means that both sexes have only one partner. Breeding generally seems to depend on the seasonal rainfall, with laying late in the dry season and hatching early in the wet season, which begins in May in the north of their range. In India, February or March is the start of breeding activity and it runs to the end of July. Up to 16 eggs are laid in a nest built in a tree hole, hollow or fork 3 to 12 meters from the ground. Incubation is for 33 days, hatching being timed with the beginning of the heavy seasonal rains. After 14 weeks of being cared for by their parents, the chicks disperse.

                Population

                Population threats

                White-winged duck populations outside protected areas are thought to be under threat of extinction in 25 years, due to loss of habitat. Drainage of wetland for land, hydropower development, deliberate burning and fragmentation all contribute to this threat. However, even populations within protected areas are threatened, being frequently hunted on account of their good quality meat, as well as suffering from disturbance and contamination of habitat by pollution and pesticides.

                Population number

                According to the IUCN Red List, the total White-winged duck population size is around 350-1,500 individuals, including 250-999 mature individuals. Specific populations have been estimated in these areas: 50 birds in India, around 100 birds in Cambodia and 150 birds in Indonesia. Overall, currently White-winged ducks are classified as Endangered (EN) and their numbers today are decreasing.

                Fun Facts for Kids

                • Despite being amongst the largest of duck species, the White-winged duck is one of the most agile and the fastest.
                • When these chicks first hatch, they have dusty yellow heads which soon turn plain brown, before becoming speckled black and white like those of the adults.
                • There are no blood vessels or nerves in ducks’ feet, meaning their feet do not suffer from the cold. This means they can swim in icy water, or walk on ice or snow.
                • The quack of a duck does echo.
                • A duck has three eyelids.
                • Feathers on the back of a duck are waterproof.
                • Donald and Daffy Duck are the world’s two most famous ducks. “Fauntleroy” is Donald Duck‘s middle name.

                References

                1. White-Winged Duck Wikipedia article - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White-winged_duck
                2. White-Winged Duck on The IUCN Red List site - http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/22680064/0

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