What kinds of ducks can you find in Cameroon?
Who doesn’t love ducks? Head to almost any water habitat, and you are likely to see at least a few swimming around.
The ducks featured below are the most common and likely to be observed in Cameroon. In reality, the complete list of ducks that can be seen is even larger!
5 DUCKS That Live in Cameroon:
#1. Yellow-billed Duck
- Anas undulata
- Their coloring is mostly grey with a dark grey head and bright yellow bill. The speculum, a patch of color on the lower wing, varies from deep blue to green.
- Males produce a teal-like whistle.
- Females make a mallard-like quack.
Yellow-billed Ducks prefer habitats with calm water in Cameroon.
Look for these birds near lakes, streams, swamps, and marshes. This species can be found in its habitat year-round because it doesn’t migrate.
The Yellow-billed Duck is well known for its elaborate mating ritual. Watching the male wooing the female is particularly entertaining; the potential mates put on a soap-opera-worthy show! You might witness strange calls, fighting, synchronized swimming, preening, and acrobatic flight. And this is all before the pair even have their babies!
Once courting is over, the female nests in a slightly indented hole in the ground, placed near the water for safety. The female lays between two and ten eggs. Then, she cares for the chicks for about three weeks after they hatch. Once the chicks can fly, they go off on their own.
#2. Spur-winged Goose
- Plectropterus gambensis
- Adults are 75–115 cm (30–45 in) long.
- Their coloring is predominantly black, with white patched wings, a greenish/bronze sheen, and a white face. Their legs and bill are bright pink to red.
- Males are larger than females and have a larger red facial patch.
- Females are very quiet, smaller, and have less red on the face.
Despite its name, this waterbird is technically not a goose (or a duck)!
The Spur-winged Goose is closely related to both ducks and geese in Cameroon, but it has adapted so well to its environment that it’s different from both of them! Look for these birds near open grasslands with seasonal pools, lakes, swamps, and rivers.
One of the most fascinating adaptations this waterbird has relates to its diet. The Spur-winged Goose eats blister beetles, which contain a toxin known as Cantharidin, an odorless poison that can kill humans and other mammals. These clever birds store the toxin in their flesh, and unsuspecting animals or people can be poisoned by eating them, even after being cooked! You should avoid Spur-winged Goose meat for this reason.
Despite being common in the wetlands of Cameroon, Spur-winged Geese are threatened by human development for housing and agriculture. Because they need water in their habitat, irrigation systems that divert their water supply are particularly harmful.
#3. White-faced Whistling-Duck
- Dendrocygna viduata
- Adults average about 40 cm (16 in) long.
- They have long black necks and heads, gray bills, a long head with dark brown wings, and a white face.
- Both sexes have the same coloring and size.
Look for these ducks in Cameroon traveling in gigantic flocks!
White-faced Whistling Ducks are extremely social and travel in groups of thousands of birds. Just before sunset, the flock descends on a lake or pond, and as the name indicates, it does not happen quietly. You can identify this duck by its three-note whistling call, which announces its arrival long before you can see it.
Look for these ducks near lakes, flooded plains, rivers, and wetlands where the flock can stay safe in numbers and feed on seeds, grass, and aquatic invertebrates. They dive underwater from the surface to find food and mostly feed at night.
When it is time for the White-faced Whistling Duck to mate, both the male and female preen to prepare themselves. It’s like getting ready for date night! After mating, the female lays between 6 and 12 eggs in a nest, but they aren’t picky about the nest’s location. They use stick platforms, holes in the ground, or even hollow trees! Female ducks care for their chicks until they can fly.
#4. African Pygmy-Goose
- Nettapus auritus
- Adults are about 30 cm (12 in) long.
- They have short gray legs, stubby beaks, chestnut-colored feathers, and white bellies.
- Males have white faces, green cheeks, and a yellow bill with a black tip.
- Females have a dull greyish face, a green patch on the head, and a dark brown stripe over the eyes.
The African Pygmy Goose is the smallest duck in Cameroon!
And, before you ask, that’s not a typo – this “goose” is actually a duck! Its common name comes from the shape of its beak, which looks more like a goose.
These small waterbirds only grow up to 30 cm (12 in) long. Look for them in marshes, shallow lakes, coastal lagoons, and slow-flowing rivers. These ducks love to dive underwater and feed on waterlilies and other aquatic vegetation.
Similar to other aquatic birds, the African Pygmy Goose reproduces either during or after the rainy season. The male and female form a close relationship that often lasts for multiple years.
#5. Hartlaub’s Duck
- Pteronetta hartlaubii
- Adults are 56-58 cm (22-23 in) long.
- Their coloring is chestnut over the body with a black head, bill, and legs. They have bluish-white wing coverts that are just visible on the sides of their bodies.
- Males are larger than females.
Look for this duck in dense forests and marshlands in Cameroon.
The Hartlaub’s Duck prefers thick woods or vegetation with nearby small rivers. They’re mostly active at night and feed on seeds, roots, insects, mollusks, crustaceans, and other aquatic invertebrates.
During the breeding and fledging season, male Hartlaub’s Ducks take parenting seriously. While the female builds her nest and lays her eggs, the male protects his family fiercely from predators. A few ways he does this are to call loudly from a distance or use a “broken wing display” to distract the predator and lead it away from his young.
Check out these guides to other animals found in Cameroon!
Which of these ducks in Cameroon have you seen before?
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