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< > Sarkidiornis melanotos - Comb duck (Click photographs/illustrations: full picture & further details)
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INFORMATION AVAILABLE

GENERAL & REFERENCES

EXTERNAL APPEARANCES

REPRODUCTION

BEHAVIOUR

NATURAL DIET

RANGE & HABITAT

CONSERVATION

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General and References

Alternative Names (Synonyms)

Knob-billed duck
Knob-billed goose
Black-backed goose
Nukhta (Indian)
Hockerglanzente (German)
Glanzente (German)
Canard-a-bosse bronze (French)
Sarcidiorne (French)
Pato crestudo (French)
Pato arrocero (Spanish)
Sarkidiornis melanotos sylvicola - South American comb duck
Sarkidiornis melanotos melanotos - Old World comb duck
(Sarkidiornis sylvicola - American comb duck)

Names for newly-hatched

Duckling, downy.

Names for non-breeding males or other colour-phases

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References

Species Author

Debra Bourne

Major References

B1, B3, B6, B8, B19, B25, B26.

Aviculture references:
J23.13.w7
B7, B11.33.w1, B29, B30, B94, B97
D1, D8

Other References

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TAXA Group (where information has been collated for an entire group on a modular basis)

Parent Group

Specific Needs Group referenced in Management Techniques

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Aviculture Information

Notes

General information:
  • Perching Ducks and "geese" are generally happier maintained fully-flighted if possible, for example in an aviary for the smaller species, or under flight netting.
  • While the larger species in this group are hardy, the smaller species may be more delicate and require winter shelter. These species eat a high proportion of vegetable matter and appreciate a grazing area. Most of these species are hole-nesters.
  • Many of these species are sociable outside the breeding season, although Cairina moschata - Muscovy duck, Cairina scutulata - White-winged duck, Pteronetta hartlaubii - Hartlaub's duck and Plectropterus gambensis - Spur-winged goose can all be aggressive and require separate enclosures.

(B7, B11.33.w1, B94, D1)

Species-specific information:

  • Comb ducks are generally hardy, but Sarkidiornis melanotos melanotos - Old World comb duck may require shelter in winter. These ducks may bay be aggressive and may require a separate enclosure.
  • These ducks may be difficult to breed but some collections breed them successfully. They may nest in natural vegetation, or use a raised or ground level nest box or a tunnel. Polygamous: maintenance as trios or even with three or four ducks per drake has been suggested.

(J23.13.w7, B29, B30, B94, B97, D1).

Aviornis UK Ringing Scheme recommended average ring size: R16.0mm (males) or P14.0mm (females) (D8).

Management Techniques

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External Appearance (Morphology)

Measurement & Weight

Length 22-30 inches, 56-76cm (B1, B25).
Adult weight General 1230-2610g (B1).
Male 1.3-2.61kg (B3); mean 5.0 lbs. (B8).
Female 1.23-2.33kg; mean 3.9 lbs. (B8).
Newly-hatched weight --
Growth rate --

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Head

Adult Bill Male Black. Prominent laterally flattened fleshy knob (comb) on basal 2/3 maxillary (upper) bill, much smaller outside breeding season. (B1, B3, B6, B8, B25, B26)
Variations (If present) Female:- Black with no knob (B1, B3, B6, B8, B25, B26).
Eyes (Iris) Male Dark brown (B8, B25).
Variations(If present) --
Juvenile Bill Black.
Eyes (Iris) Dark brown (B25).

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Legs

Adult Male Dark grey (B3, B8, B25, B26).
Variations (If present) --
Juvenile Dark grey (B25).

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Plumage

Adult Male Head and neck white spotted with back, yellow-tinge on back of head and neck in breeding season. Upperparts including flanks iridescent blue-green black, with stripe down side of breast. Breast and abdomen white, separated by black band from undertail coverts yellow to cinnamon. Wing metallic green/black. (B1, B3, B6, B8, B25, B26)
Variations (If present) Female:- Head has more spotting, no yellow. Ventral area white.
Sarkidiornis melanotos sylvicola:- Flanks grey.
(B1, B3, B6, B8, B25, B26)
Juvenile Crown, upperparts and tail dark brown. Remainder of head, neck, underparts buff-brown with darker speckling on flanks and dark brown eye-stripe. (B3, B6, B25, B26).

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Newly-hatched Characteristics

General: Upperparts brown with buff-yellow spots on sides and wing. Underparts and face buff-yellow with small line through eye.
Bill: Grey.
Feet: Grey with yellowish webs (B6)

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Reproduction

Reproductive Season

Time of year Variable. Usually in rainy season. Southern Africa - December to March ; India - July to September. (B1, B3, B8, B25).
No. of Clutches One (B3)

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Nest placement and structure

In tree hollows e.g. 20-30 feet above ground level, also tree forks, nests of other birds, occasionally on the ground in tall grass or reeds or amongst stones. Twigs and coarse grass, lining of leaves, fine grass, feathers. (B1, B3, B6, B8, B25, B26 )

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Egg clutches

No. of Eggs Average --
Range 6-15 (B8); 6-20 (B1). 50 or more in dump nests (B8).
Egg Description White or yellow-tinged (B8), pale cream (B3); size: 62x43mm, weight:47g (B3)

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Incubation

28-30d (B1, B8)

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Hatching

Synchronous.

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Fledging

about 70 days (B1, B8).

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Sexual Maturity

Males --
Females --

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Behaviour

Feeding Behaviour

Adults Graze on land, also feed in shallow water, swimming, wading and dabbling. (B1, B8, B25)
Newly-hatched --

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Parental Behaviour

Nest-building Solitary nests or in small groups.
Incubation By female only.
Newly-hatched Tended by female only. Loose crèche sometimes formed (B8)
Juveniles

Remain with female until molt movements (B8)

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Social Behaviour

Intra-specific Often form single-sex groups, larger in dry season (B3, B6, 25)
Inter-specific --

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Sexual Behaviour

Males often form harems, either attending several females at one time, or in succession (B8, B25).

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Predation in Wild

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Activity Patterns

Readily perch in trees, loaf on sandbanks or islets during the day (B6, B26)
Circadian Feeding pattern mainly crepuscular (early morning and late evening) (B26)

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Natural Diet

Adults

Vegetable-based. Seeds of grasses, sedges and aquatic plants, grain. Also terrestrial and aquatic insects (locusts and aquatic larvae), occasional small fish (B1, B3, B8, B26)

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Newly-hatched

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Range and Habitat

Distribution and Movement (Migration etc.)

Normal Sarkidiornis melanotos melanotos (Old World comb duck): Africa south of Sahara (rare south of the orange River and in north-eastern South Africa), Madagascar, southern Asia (particularly Ceylon, India Burma, Thailand (B26)

Sarkidiornis melanotos sylvatica (New World comb duck) South America, in tropical areas, approximately north and east of a line from the equator on the north-west coast to Rio de la Plata (B26)

Occasional and Accidental --
Introduced --

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Habitat

In wooded country and more open grasslands. Lakes, ponds, rivers, swamps. (B1, B19, B25, B26)

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Conservation

Intraspecific variation

Two sub-species recognised, S. melanotos melanotos - Old World comb duck in Africa and Asia and S. melanotos sylvicola - South American comb duck, with grey rather than black flanks. Latter is sometimes considered a full species (S. sylvicola - American comb duck). (B1, B25)

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Conservation Status

Wild Population -
(Importance)

Not globally threatened, but Sarkidiornis melanotos sylvicola may be considered near-threatened (B1)

CITES listing CITES II (B1)
Red-data book listing --
Threats Hunting, deforestation and poisoning by pesticides used to protect rice fields (B1, B8)

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Captive Populations

Well established in collections, with more Sarkidiornis melanotos sylvicola - New World comb ducks found in European collections and Sarkidiornis melanotos melanotos - Old World comb ducks in North American collections (B8).

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Trade

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