What kinds of ducks can you find in Morocco?
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 Morocco. In reality, the complete list of ducks that can be seen is even larger!
10 DUCKS That Live in Morocco:
- Spatula querquedula
- Adults are about 41 cm (16 in) long.
- Males are gray with a brown chest and head, a dark crown, and large white curves over their eyes. Their mating call is a distinctive crackling honk.
- Females are brown with a dark eyeline and pale eyebrows. They’re quiet but occasionally manage a feeble quack.
The Garganey is a common duck in Morocco during winter.
As a strict migratory species, the entire population moves north for summer and travels south to avoid cold weather. This is unusual among ducks since most species have at least some year-round residents.
Unlike diving ducks, Garganeys forage for their food just below the water’s surface, skimming aquatic plants and insects. They dip their bill into the water and shake their heads often, which makes them look like they’re washing their faces. 🙂
But their feeding style isn’t the only thing that’s a little quirky about the Garganey. When calling, the male makes an exaggerated nodding motion with his head and neck, then releases a shrill clicking noise that sounds like a bug! Finally, he shakes his tail feathers rapidly as if he’s dancing. It’s truly something to watch!
#2. Ruddy Shelduck
- Tadorna ferruginea
- Adults are 58 to 70 cm (23 to 28 in) long.
- Their coloring is cinnamon on the body with a black tail and wings. They have black bills and legs, a pale cream head, and a greenish speculum on the wings.
- Males are larger and brighter in color than females.
The Ruddy Shelduck is one of the most beautiful ducks in Morocco!
Its orange coloring and white highlights make it beautiful to look at. However, it can be tough to catch a glimpse because this unique bird is predominantly nocturnal.
Ruddy Shelducks prefer large inland lakes and reservoirs with plenty of cleared land. They’re seldom found in forested areas and prefer lowlands over mountains. Interestingly, this species doesn’t build nests for its eggs. Instead, Ruddy Shelducks use old animal burrows or tree holes for nesting sites. They often choose places far away from water, which helps protect the eggs from predators.
In my opinion, these ducks have one of the most adorable calls! They sound like a nasally “ooh-ah!” and repeat that noise as they walk the shore looking for food.
#3. Ferruginous Duck
- Aythya nyroca
- Adults are 38–42 cm (15-17 in) long.
- Their coloring is chestnut on the body and head with a white underwing and belly. They have black bills and legs.
- Males have yellowish-white eyes, while females’ eyes are dark brown.
You can find this duck in Morocco during the winter months.
The Ferruginous Duck inhabits slow-moving or still, quiet waters and avoids rivers and fast-flowing streams. They feed at night on small fish, aquatic plants, insects, and mollusks found in shallow mudflats and vegetated wetlands.
This dabbling duck loves socializing with others, even those of other species. They’re often seen in large flocks, especially during the winter. Flocks get smaller as males and females pair off to breed starting in January. The male sets out to lure a female by curling his tail to form a triangular white patch to catch her attention.
After breeding, the female lays eggs in a floating nest or on the ground near the water. Then, the females stay with the hatchlings until they can fly on their own. These ducks nest in colonies and well-protected areas like islands, so you’re likely to see a large group of nests with chicks during the breeding season.
- Anas platyrhynchos
- Adults are 50–65 cm (20–26 in) long.
- Males have a bright green head, thin white collar, dark reddish-brown chest, yellow bill, and a black rear with a white-tipped tail.
- Females are mottled brown with orange and brown bills.
- Both sexes have purple-blue secondary feathers on their wing, most visible when standing or flying.
My guess is that almost everyone is familiar with the Mallard. These ducks are often seen in Morocco living around people! Because they are so comfortable around humans, these adaptable ducks are widespread around the world.
When you think of a duck quacking, it is almost inevitably a female Mallard. If there is a better duck sound, we haven’t heard it! Interestingly, males do not quack like females but, instead, make a raspy call.
#5. Northern Shoveler
- Spatula clypeata
- Males have reddish-brown flanks, green heads, a white chest, black backs, and yellow eyes.
- Females are brown, and sometimes you can see a bluish shoulder patch.
- Both sexes have distinctive bills, which are large and wide!
If you only glance at the green head, casual observers in Morocco might accidentally think these ducks are Mallards. But one look up close, and you should notice the ENORMOUS spoon-shaped bill, which is how Northern Shovelers got their name.
They use their large bill to shovel and sift through mud and sand to find tasty tidbits like crustaceans, mollusks, and buried aquatic insects. Interestingly, their bill has over 100 tiny projections on the edges called lamellae that help filter out the food they want to eat. An interesting behavior observed with Northern Shovelers is their ability to “team up” to find food. Flocks of them will sometimes swim in circles together to help stir up food!
Males make a guttural “took-took” sound during courtship, when alarmed, and in flight. Females make a nasally-sounding quack.
#6. White-headed Duck
- Aix sponsa
- Males are mottled brown over the body, with a white head. In the summertime, their bills are brilliant blue.
- Females are also mottled brown, with a black and white head and a gray-brown bill.
Although this duck in Morocco is named for the color of its head, that’s not its most striking feature.
It might seem unbelievable, but during the breeding season, males have a bright blue bill! This is likely used as a way to attract a mate, as a stronger bill color signals a higher breeding potential.
While females lack bright-colored bills, they have the same basic shape, making them easy to identify. White-headed Ducks live in areas with large expanses of open water. They don’t mind human-altered environments like reservoirs or drainage ponds. As a result, you’re as likely to see this species in the city as in a more remote area.
White-headed Ducks are hesitant to fly, especially while on the water. They’re much more likely to swim away from danger than to fly. Additionally, they eat the majority of their food while on the water. Even though they mostly eat aquatic vegetation, White-headed Ducks are omnivorous and eat insects, small fish, and tadpoles.
#7. 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 Morocco 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.
#8. Red-crested Pochard
- Netta rufina
- Males have bright red bills and eyes, a chestnut head, and brown, black, and white bodies.
- Females are a soft, dusty brown with a pale gray neck and a black bill with a red-orange tip.
Like other ducks in Morocco, the Red-crested Pochard is highly social and forms large flocks.
You’re likely to find them in lowland marshes, where they spend their time in the water and among low vegetation. Some populations are year-round residents, although northern ducks migrate south for the winter.
Red-crested Pochards are comfortable around people and often make their homes in city parks! However, they stay near water, so parks with rivers or lakes are always the best place to look.
Did you know that bread isn’t good for ducks? Even though many people feed ducks stale bread, it’s hard for them to digest. Instead of bread, crackers, or table scraps, try feeding ducks cracked corn, oats, rice, birdseed, frozen peas, chopped lettuce, or sliced grapes. Ducks, including Red-crested Pochards, will be grateful!
You can also listen for this duck’s distinctive call. Males make a wheezy “veht” while females give a series of rasping “vrah-vrah-vrah” noises.
#9. Common Pochard
- Aythya ferina
- Males have a chestnut-colored head with a black neck and bill, white body, and gray tail. Their eyes are bright orange.
- Females are mottled chestnut all over, with a dark brown or gray bill.
Look for Common Pochards in Morocco in wet habitats with vegetation.
These long-billed ducks make their homes in marshland and near lakes. In some areas, their populations are increasing, although modern land development threatens their habitat.
Like many ducks in Morocco, this species is very gregarious and forms large flocks during the winter. It will even join flocks of other diving ducks, including the Tufted Duck. The most important reason for flocking behavior is to protect themselves from predators, which are much more likely to go after a single bird than a group of thousands!
Females make a gravelly growling noise, while males have a high, nasally whistle that cuts off sharply at the end.
#10. Common Shelduck
- Tadorna tadorna
- Males’ bodies are a mix of black, white, and cinnamon. Their heads are black, and their bills are red, with a large knob extending over the forehead.
- Females have similar coloring as males, though less bold. They lack the knob over the forehead.
Look for these ducks in open, unforested areas near lakes and rivers in Morocco. During molting, you can spot groups of up to 100,000 Common Shelducks together in salt marshes! It’s quite a party when these noisy ducks get together.
In addition to remaining in large groups, this duck has an ingenious way of protecting its young from predators. If they sense a threat, the babies will dive under the water’s surface while the parents fly off, acting as a decoy. This lures the predator away while the parents circle and return to their chicks.
They have a loud, rattling call that raises and lowers in pitch and speed.
Check out these guides to other animals found in Morocco!
Which of these ducks in Morocco have you seen before?
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