What kinds of ducks can you find in Rwanda?
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 Rwanda. In reality, the complete list of ducks that can be seen is even larger!
6 DUCKS That Live in Rwanda:
#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 Rwanda!
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 Rwanda!
#2. 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 Rwanda.
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.
#3. 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 Rwanda, 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 Rwanda, 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.
#4. 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 Rwanda 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.
#5. Red-billed Teal
- Anas erythrorhyncha
- Adults are 43–48 cm (17–19 in) long.
- They have a red bill and a dark brown body. Their heads are white on the cheeks, with a black stripe over the eyes and top of the head.
- Both sexes have the same physical characteristics.
The Red-Billed Teal is a dabbling duck in Rwanda that prefers natural and artificial dams. These ducks are abundant, especially in wetlands with grassy areas with nearby water. They spend most of the day on the water and only go on land at night to feed. As omnivores, their diet consists of plant food, insects, snails, and worms.
Unlike diving ducks, dabbling ducks get most of their food from land or the water’s surface. They don’t dive or fully submerge. So you’re much more likely to see them floating on the surface or walking near the water’s edge.
#6. Knob-billed Duck
- Sarkidiornis melanotos
- Adults are 56-76 cm (22-30 in) long.
- Their head and neck are white and covered in dark, freckle-like spots. They have a white underside, black bill and legs, and gray sides. The tops of their wings and back are covered in glossy-black feathers that shine greenish-blue in the sun.
- Males are significantly larger than females, with a bulky black knob on their bills.
The Knob-billed Duck is the largest duck in Rwanda!
It’s also one of the largest in the world. The bulky knob on its bill makes this duck easy to identify, but that’s a trait that only males have. You’ll find the African Knob-billed duck in open savannas near lakes and large rivers.
Although their diet is mostly aquatic vegetation, these ducks also feed on seeds and invertebrates. Additionally, the Knob-billed Duck is a skillful hunter, and despite its size, it is known to dive underwater to seek out small fish agilely.
Like some other duck species, Knob-billed Ducks breed according to the seasons. They always wait for heavy rains, and males begin to court females once the rainy season is underway.
Males often breed with two females at a time and up to five females during the breeding season. Although the male breeds with multiple females, he is extremely protective and protects both the females and the hatchlings.
Check out these guides to other animals found in Rwanda!
Which of these ducks in Rwanda have you seen before?
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