What kinds of ducks can you find in Mauritania?
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 Mauritania. In reality, the complete list of ducks that can be seen is even larger!
5 DUCKS That Live in Mauritania:
#1. Egyptian Goose
- Alopochen aegyptiaca
- Adults are 63–73 cm (25–29 in) long.
- They have long pink legs and a pink bill. Their bodies are light brown with brown wings tipped in green and white. They have a dark brown patch over each eye.
Despite its confusing name, the Egyptian Goose is considered a type of duck in Mauritania!
Egyptian Geese are closely related to shelducks. They prefer meadows, agricultural fields, and grasslands near permanent bodies of water. Their standard meal is grass sprouts and grain, but they won’t say no to a small insect, frog, or worm. Their long, pink legs allow them to wade into relatively deep water for something to eat.
Although you may have trouble spotting this duck in its thickly vegetated habitat, you probably won’t have a hard time hearing it. Males of the species get loud and aggressive during their mating season, constantly making loud, obnoxious honking noises.
The name “Egyptian Goose” comes from the heavy, lumbering way it flies, which more closely resembles a goose than a duck. But whichever name they go by, this fascinating duck is one you should be sure to look for in Mauritania!
#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 Mauritania, 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 Mauritania, 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 Mauritania 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 Mauritania!
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. Marbled Teal
- Marmaronetta angustirostris
- Adults’ coloring is pale brown with cream blotches. They have a dark cap extending to the bottom of the eye, and the head has a fringed crown.
- Juveniles have many more blotches of pale coloring, which darken as they age.
- They have a blocky, rectangular head and an upturned bill.
The unique-looking Marbled Teal prefers temporary ponds and marshlands in Mauritania created by heavy rain. It spends most of its time in large groups, sometimes numbering up to 40,000 birds! These social birds congregate for protection from predators, as well as to find new mates and form family groups.
Aside from the mating call of the male, which is a muted “jeep” noise, Marbled Teals are relatively quiet. They don’t make much noise even when disturbed, preferring to take flight or swim away quickly.
Interestingly, Marbled Teals eat different foods depending on the season. As they ramp up for breeding, they consume more insects and flies. Then, during the autumn and winter months, they switch to eating small seeds.
Check out these guides to other animals found in Mauritania!
Which of these ducks in Mauritania have you seen before?
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