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< >  Anas erythrorhyncha - Red-billed duck (Click photographs/illustrations: full picture & further details)
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General and References

Alternative Names (Synonyms)

Red-billed pintail
Red-billed teal
African red-billed teal
Rotschnabelente (German)
Canard bec rouge (French)
Anade piquirrojo (Spanish)
Pato pico rojo africana (Spanish)
Paecilonetta erythrorhyncha

Names for newly-hatched

Duckling, downy.

Names for non-breeding males or other colour-phases


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Species Author

Debra Bourne

Major References

B1, B3, B5, B8, B19, B25, B26.

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


General Information:
  • Dabbling Ducks are generally hardy, easy to maintain and easy to breed. Shelter may be required by some of the smaller species in winter. They should be provided with cover (including marginal pond cover) and loafing areas as well as water. A pen which is 50% water is suggested. The water may be shallow (i.e. no more than two feet deep is required), and muddy areas for dabbling in are also appreciated. These ducks are generally good in mixed collections, although the smaller and quieter species may be bullied. Territorial disputes between ducks of the same species may be avoided by keeping only one pair of each species in an enclosure, unless the area is very large. For a single pair of ducks a pen are of 50 to 100 square metres, depending on the size of duck, should be provided.
  • A diet based on wheat and pellets is suggested, with maintenance pellets changed to breeders pellets for the breeding season. Bread and greenfood are also appreciated. Grit should always be available, with soluble grit (e.g. oystershell grit) as a calcium source when breeding.
  • Most species are ground nesters and both close ground cover and ground level nest boxes should be provided. Hand-rearing is generally preferred, as these ducks are generally poor parents in captive conditions, particularly in enclosures shared with other waterfowl. These ducks are prone to hybridization, particularly with closely related species, which should be kept apart from one another.
  • Pintails generally do well in mixed collections with other ducks, given sufficient space to avoid bullying, but may do better in individual pens for breeding, and should have plenty of ground cover. They may be fed as other dabbling-ducks, on pellets, grain, green food, bread.

(B7, B29, B30, B40, B94, B128.w1, D1) Aviculture references:
B7, B29, B30, B40, B94, B128.w1
D1, D8

Species-specific information:

  • Red-billed ducks are generally hardy, but shelter should be available in persistent cold weather with the water frozen. They are easy to manage and may be maintained in mixed collections with other ducks and various enclosure types. Feed other dabbling ducks.
  • These ducks are easy to breed. Secluded area of natural cover preferred for nesting, but they may also may also use nest boxes. Eggs are laid mainly June or July at Slimbridge, UK, sometimes May or April - usually at this time in central Europe. Easily parent reared or hand reared,
  • Hybridisation is not common, but has been reported with Anas undulata - Yellow-billed duck.

(B29, B30, B31, B94, B96, B97).

Aviornis UK Ringing Scheme recommended average closed ring size: J 9.0mm (D8).

Management Techniques

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External Appearance (Morphology)

Measurement & Weight

Length 17-19 inches, 43-48cm (B3, B1).
Adult weight General 345-954g (B1).
Male 503-755g average 617g (B3); mean 1.3 lbs., maximum 2.0 lbs. (B8).
Female 434-786g average 566g (B3); mean 1.2 lbs. (B8).
Newly-hatched weight --
Growth rate --

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Adult Bill Male Bright red-pink with darker culmen line and black nail (B3, B5, B8, B25).
Variations (If present) Female: slightly duller (B3, B5, B25).
Eyes (Iris) Male Brown (B3, B5, B8, B25).
Variations(If present) --
Juvenile Bill Dull brownish-pink (B3, B5, B25)
Eyes (Iris) Brown (B3, B5, B25).

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Adult Male Dark grey (B3, B5, B25).
Variations (If present) --
Juvenile Dark grey (B3, B5, B25).

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Adult Male Dorsal head (eyes upward) and hindneck dull dark brown, sharply divided from ventral sides of head and throat buff-white. Upperparts dull dark brown with scalloped marks formed from buff-white feather-edges; underparts similar, but paler overall appearance. Tail olive-brown, pointed. Wing dark brown, greater coverts broadly tipped with buff, secondaries greenish-black bases, otherwise buff (B3, B5, B8, B25, B26).
Variations (If present) Female:-may be slightly duller, base of secondaries black-brown (B25).
Juvenile Similar to adults but greyer, less buff; underparts less clearly marked (B3, B5, B25, B26).

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Newly-hatched Characteristics

General: Upperparts dark brown with pale yellow markings; underparts pale yellow, dark brown eyeline and ear mark (B1, B5, B26).
Bill: Dark grey (B5)
Feet: Dark grey (B5)

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Reproductive Season

Time of year Geographical variation, long and irregular, usually starts soon after start of rainy season: June-October in south, January-August in Kenya (B1, B8).
No. of Clutches --

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Nest placement and structure

On ground, in dense waterside vegetation, grass or sedge cup with down lining (B1, B8, B25, B26).

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Egg clutches

No. of Eggs Average 10 (B8).
Range 5-12 (B1, B8).
Egg Description Buff, cream or greenish-white (B3, B8, B26); size: 56 x 43mm, weight: 39g (B3).

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25-28 days (B1, B8).

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About eight weeks (B1).

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Sexual Maturity

Males Presumed one year old (Anas standard).
Females Presumed one year old (Anas standard).

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Feeding Behaviour

Adults Dabble, head-dip and up-end in shallow water, forage wading on muddy shores and graze on land (B1, B3, B25).
Newly-hatched --

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Parental Behaviour

Nest-building Solitary nests, built by female (B1, B8).
Incubation By female (B3, B8).
Newly-hatched Tended by female; male sometimes accompanies family (B3, B8, B25).


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Social Behaviour

Intra-specific Gregarious, often found in flocks of hundreds to thousands (B3, B8, B25, B26)
Inter-specific Frequently found mixed with other duck species (B3, B8, B26).

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Sexual Behaviour

Pair bonds strong and usually, but not always, long-term (B8, B25).

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Predation in Wild


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Activity Patterns

Walk easily and spend much time on land. Very active. Gather to feed in crops such as rice, particularly at night (B8, B26).
Circadian Often graze at night and feed on invertebrates during the day, particularly when flood levels are low (B8).

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Natural Diet


Seeds, fruits, roots and vegetative parts aquatic plants, sedges and grasses, grain, also molluscs and other aquatic invertebrates (insects, crustaceans), occasionally tadpoles and perhaps fish (B1, B3, B8, B26).

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Range and Habitat

Distribution and Movement (Migration etc.)


Eastern and southern Africa, from southern Sudan and Ethiopia southward to Cape Province and westward to Angola, also Madagascar. Movements: local movements, sometimes quite long-distance within the normal range, with water availability (B1, B19).

Occasional and Accidental

Single record outside sub-Saharan Africa, on Mediterranean coast of Israel (B1, B25).



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Varied wetlands: shallow lakes, ponds, marshes, streams, particularly with abundant emergent and floating vegetation (B1, B3, B25, B26, B19).

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Intraspecific variation


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Conservation Status

Wild Population -

Not globally threatened; common to abundant, with stable population, although Madagascan population is decreasing (B1, B8).

CITES listing --
Red-data book listing --
Threats --

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Captive Populations

Common in collections (B8).

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