Physical Description

Diagnostic Description

Description

Length: 51-63 cm. Plumage: dark brownish grey with broad paler edging to feathers giving scaley appearance; head darker with less scaling; speculum green (blue in the nothern race rueppelli) narrowly edged white, wing linings white. Immature like adult but paler. Bare parts: iris reddish brown; bill bright yellow with a black central patch on culmen; feet and legs black to reddish brown. Habitat: estuaries, but more common on inland waters. <388><391><393>
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© WoRMS for SMEBD

Source: World Register of Marine Species

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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
Behaviour This species is mainly sedentary, although the southern African population is more nomadic, undertaking considerable local movements (up to 50 km (Brown, et al. 1982)) with the availability of seasonal wetlands (Brown, et al. 1982, Scott and Rose 1996). It forms huge colonies in the non-breeding season, but disperses to breed at the onset of the rainy season (Brown, et al. 1982). Adults undergo a post-nuptial wing moult three or four months after the peak of the breeding season, rendering them flightless for a period of about four weeks (Johnsgard 1978, Kear 2005b). The species is mainly nocturnal: typically foraging at dusk and after dark whilst remaining sedentary throughout the day (Johnsgard 1978). Habitat This species frequents slow-flowing rivers with pools and adjacent flooded grasslands, permanent and seasonal lakes, streams, marshes, brackish coastal lagoons, artificial reservoirs associated with mining, dams, salt pans, sewage works and the open water of estuaries (del Hoyo, et al. 1992, Hockey, et al. 2005, Kear 2005b). It cannot tolerate highly acidic habitats or those where sodium chloride concentrations are very high, but can tolerate high concentrations of other salts around pH 10 or more (Brown, et al. 1982). It also avoids fast-flowing water (Hockey, et al. 2005). Diet It is omnivorous, with a diet consisting of the fruits, seeds, roots, leaves and stems of aquatic and terrestrial plants, aquatic insects and their larvae (including mayflies, water beetles and grasshoppers) (Hockey, et al. 2005), crustaceans, molluscs and agricultural grains such as maize and sunflower seeds (Brown, et al. 1982, del Hoyo, et al. 1992). Breeding site The nest of this species is situated on the ground and is made of grass, rushes and reed stems (Brown, et al. 1982, del Hoyo, et al. 1992). It is usually protected and screened from above by dense, overhanging vegetation (del Hoyo, et al. 1992) and some nests may have tunnel access through the surrounding grass (Brown, et al. 1982).

Systems
  • Terrestrial
  • Freshwater
  • Marine
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© International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources

Source: IUCN

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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2012

Assessor/s
BirdLife International

Reviewer/s
Butchart, S. & Symes, A.

Contributor/s

Justification
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

History
  • Least Concern (LC)
  • Least Concern (LC)
  • Least Concern (LC)
  • Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
  • Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
  • Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
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© International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources

Source: IUCN

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