10 Types of Ducks Found in Uganda! (2024)

What kinds of ducks can you find in Uganda?

Types of ducks in Uganda

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 Uganda. In reality, the complete list of ducks that can be seen is even larger!

10 DUCKS That Live in Uganda:


#1. Egyptian Goose

  • Alopochen aegyptiaca

Types of ducks in Uganda

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 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 Uganda!

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 Uganda!

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#2. Yellow-billed Duck

  • Anas undulata

Types of ducks in Uganda

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 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 Uganda.

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.

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#3. Spur-winged Goose

  • Plectropterus gambensis

Types of ducks in Uganda

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 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 Uganda, 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 Uganda, 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.

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#4. Red-billed Teal

  • Anas erythrorhyncha

Types of ducks in Uganda

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 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 Uganda 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.


#5. African Black Duck

  • Anas sparsa

african black duck

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 48–57 cm (19–22 in) long.
  • Their coloring is black with prominent white markings on their backs, orange feet and legs, and dark bills. They have purplish-blue speculums that are visible during flight.
  • Males are generally larger than females.

African Black Ducks are closely related to another species in Africa, the Mallard.

Unlike Mallards and other ducks, African Black Ducks are shy and somewhat territorial. They prefer to stay in pairs or very small flocks, so you can’t expect to see large groupings of these waterbirds.

Interestingly, these ducks seem to have a sixth sense about where to build their nests. They’re able to keep their eggs as close to the water as possible without being in danger of flooding. They always make their nests on the ground.

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#6. Knob-billed Duck

  • Sarkidiornis melanotos

knob billed duck

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 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 Uganda!

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.

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#7. African Pygmy-Goose

  • Nettapus auritus

Identifying Characteristics:

  • 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 Uganda!

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.

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#8. Blue-billed Teal

  • Spatula hottentota

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 33–35 cm (13-14 in) long.
  • Their coloring is mottled tan and dark brown. They have grey legs, blue bills, a green wing speculum, and a black streak on the top of the head.
  • Males have brown crowns and pale faces.
  • Females have nearly black crowns, but their wings lack the glossy color found in the males.

You’re unlikely to misidentify this duck in Uganda!

The Blue-billed Teal is best known for its namesake blue-gray beak, which is usually brighter in males but also visible in females. This species frequents swamps, marshes, lakes, and ponds. Interestingly, they’re often found in rice paddies, where they feed on seeds, plants, fruit, and aquatic invertebrates disturbed by cattle.

Blue-billed Teals are a shy and reclusive species. They might flock in small numbers but never more than ten or so, and mostly, they restrict themselves to living in pairs. They’re most comfortable sleeping on the water but will rest on land if the environment is safe.

The breeding habits of this duck are a bit unusual compared to others. For example, instead of the male approaching a female, the female entices the male to attract him. If the male is interested, he responds by flapping his wings and burping.

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#9. Fulvous Whistling-Duck

  • Dendrocygna bicolor

fulvous whistling duck

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 45–53 cm (18–21 in) long.
  • Their coloring is chestnut over the head, chest, and undersides, with black wings and backs. They have a white patch on the throat and lavender-gray feet and bills.
  • Females are smaller, and their colors are slightly duller.

The Fulvous Whistling Duck inhabits swamps, lowland marches, and even flat country, but it avoids wooded areas in Uganda. This species is an herbivore, mostly feeding on seeds, leaf shoots, bulbs, buds, and aquatic plants.

They show remarkable loyalty to their partners, and the male and female are often monogamous for life. Fulvous Whistling Ducks often act like a human married couple, and the male and female share the incubation and childrearing responsibilities. The female lays about 10 eggs, and surprisingly, the male spends the most time in the nest, protecting and incubating them.

Once the grey ducklings hatch, the parents immediately expose them to the water. They tend to them and stay close by until they fledge, which happens after about nine weeks. To protect the youngsters, the duck acts out a broken wing display to lure predators away!

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#10. White-backed Duck

  • Thalassornis leuconotus

white backed duck

Identifying Characteristics:

  • Adults are 38-40 cm (15-16 in) long.
  • Their coloring is mottled brown and black all over the body and face. They have black bills with yellow blotches and a white patch at the base.
  • Both sexes look alike.

Look for this duck in shallow lakes and ponds in Uganda.

The White-backed Duck is well-adapted for diving. They generally avoid open water and prefer shallow water with lots of vegetation, where they feed on seeds, grass, and aquatic invertebrates at night.

The male and female have a close breeding relationship, and after mating, the male helps with all the chores around the nest. They work together to build the nest out of plant material and line it with aquatic grass. Usually, the nests are constructed to drift on the water between reeds, but sometimes, these ducks place them on the ground close to the water.

Although unusual for ducks and waterbirds, White-backed Ducks breed throughout the year. While they are nesting and hatching, the male protects the female and the chicks. After the youngsters hatch, both parents stay with them until they can fly independently and leave the nest.

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Check out these guides to other animals found in Uganda!


Which of these ducks in Uganda have you seen before?

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