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General and References

Alternative Names (Synonyms)

Grey duck
Spot-billed grey duck
Chinese spotbill (Anas poecilorhyncha zonorhyncha)
Eastern spot-billed duck (Anas poecilorhyncha zonorhyncha)
Chinese grey duck (Anas poecilorhyncha zonorhyncha)
Burmese spotbill (Anas poecilorhyncha haringtoni)
Burmese grey duck (Anas poecilorhyncha haringtoni)
Indian spotbill (Anas poecilorhyncha poecilorhyncha)
Indian spot-billed grey duck (Anas poecilorhyncha poecilorhyncha)
Fleckschnabelente (German)
Canard ŕ bec tacheté (French)
Anade picopinto (Spanish)
Anas superciliosa poecilorhyncha

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.

Aviculture references:
B7, B29, B30, B31, B40, B94, B95, B97, B128.w1
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


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.

(B7, B29, B30, B40, B94, B128.w1, D1)

Species-specific information:

  • Spot-billed ducks are winter-hardy, easily bred, feed grain. Hardy and prolific, these ducks are generally suitable for mixed collections, although they are sometimes reported to be quarrelsome. 
  • These ducks are fairly easy to breed. They nest in low or close ground cover or ground-level nest boxes. Eggs laid April to mid-May or June. Ducklings may be parent-reared.
  • These ducks commonly hybridise within the mallard-type ducks: maintenance in enclosures away from other similar species is suggested. Drakes may pair with Anas platyrhynchos - Mallard and other similar species; intentional hybrids have been produced with Anas species, Aix sponsa - Wood duck, and Netta rufina - Red-crested pochard, with most of the hybrids being fertile.

(B29, B31, B94, B95, B97)

Aviornis UK Ringing Scheme recommended average closed ring size:

  • Anas poecilorhyncha poecilorhyncha M 12.0mm
  • Anas poecilorhyncha zonorhyncha M 12.0mm
  • Anas poecilorhyncha haringtoni L 11.0mm


Management Techniques

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External Appearance (Morphology)

Measurement & Weight

Length 58-63cm, 23-25 inches (B1, B25)
Adult weight General --
Male Anas poecilorhyncha zonorhyncha 1156-1340g; 2.0-2.5 lbs. (B8).

Anas poecilorhyncha poecilorhyncha 1230-1500g; 2.7-3.3 lbs. (B8).

Anas poecilorhyncha haringtoni average smaller than Anas poecilorhyncha poecilorhyncha.

Female Anas poecilorhyncha zonorhyncha 750-980g; 1.7-2.2 lbs. (B8).

Anas poecilorhyncha poecilorhyncha 790-1360g; 1.7-3.0 lbs. (B8).

Anas poecilorhyncha haringtoni average smaller than Anas poecilorhyncha poecilorhyncha.

Newly-hatched weight --
Growth rate --

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Adult Bill Male Blackish, with yellow tip, black nail and a red spot on either side at the base.
Variations (If present) Female: smaller or absent red spots on bill base.

Anas poecilorhyncha haringtoni red spots on bill base smaller.

Anas poecilorhyncha zonorhyncha neither sex has red spots on bill base.

Eyes (Iris) Male Brown.
Variations(If present) --
Juvenile Bill Blackish with yellow tip and black nail
Eyes (Iris) Brown.

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Adult Male Orange-red.
Variations (If present) --
Juvenile Orange-red.

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Adult Male Head and neck pale buff-grey, lightly streaked with black, crown and broad line through eyes black. Lower neck and breast buff-grey with black spotting, graduating to flanks and abdomen dark feathers with buff-grey edging, ventral region, rump, tail and tail-coverts, almost plain black-brown. Upperparts blackish with fine buff-grey borders to mantle feathers and scapulars.

Wing grey-black, with white inner tertials, white tips to greater coverts, green secondaries with black base and subterminal band and white tips (speculum green between black and white bands).

Variations (If present) Anas poecilorhyncha haringtoni smaller, underparts more uniform.

Anas poecilorhyncha zonorhyncha sides of head purer buff, second, incomplete, line on face from bill base towards ear coverts, breast indistinctly mottled rather than spotted, otherwise almost uniform dark plumage with faintest of feather-edge markings. Wings grey-black, white outer web only to inner tertials, secondaries blue with black boundaries and very narrow or absent white tipping to secondaries and greater coverts.

Female (all races): slightly duller than the male.

Juvenile As adults but paler, with more spotted underparts.

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Newly-hatched Characteristics

General: Upperparts blackish with yellow markings, underparts yellow. Broad black eyestripe.
Bill: Greyish.
Feet: Greyish.

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Reproductive Season

Time of year Varies over the geographical range and with water levels, e.g. July-October in northern India, November-December in south India.
No. of Clutches --

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Nest placement and structure

Concealed in vegetation on the ground near water, a grass and weed pad with down lining. Occasionally in trees.

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Egg clutches

No. of Eggs Average 7-9 (B1)
Range 6-12 (B1); 6-14 (B8).
Egg Description Buff. Size: 56 x 41mm, weight: 55g (B3).

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About 24 days (B1); About 28 days (B8).

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About 7-8 weeks (B1); 49-56 days (B8).

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Sexual Maturity

Males Presumed Anas standard: one year old.
Females Presumed Anas standard: one year old.

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Feeding Behaviour

Adults Dabble, head-dip and up-ends in shallow, also feed while walking and grubbing on marshland.
Newly-hatched --

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Parental Behaviour

Nest-building Anas standard: by female only.
Incubation By female only.
Newly-hatched By female, but possibly male remains with female.


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Social Behaviour

Intra-specific Often found in groups of up to fifty birds.
Inter-specific Freely mix with other dabbling duck species.

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Sexual Behaviour

Pair bonds may be prolonged.

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Predation in Wild


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Activity Patterns

Loaf on islands or banks during the day.
Circadian Crepuscular (morning and evening) feeding pattern.

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Natural Diet


Mainly vegetarian, seeds and vegetative parts grasses, sedges, aquatic vegetation, grain including cultivated rice. Also aquatic insects and their larvae, molluscs (e.g. water snails), worms.

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Range and Habitat

Distribution and Movement (Migration etc.)

Normal Anas poecilorhyncha zonorhyncha South eastern former USSR (east of Amur River), eastern Mongolia, Korea, southern Sakhalin, Japan, over most of China south to Kwangtung, northern Yunnan, Szechwan

Anas poecilorhyncha haringtoni Eastern Assam and Burma eastward to southern China and Laos

Anas poecilorhyncha poecilorhyncha Whole of Indian subcontinent to western Assam.

Movements: Anas poecilorhyncha haringtoni, Anas poecilorhyncha poecilorhyncha mainly sedentary, local movements depending on rains and water availability.

Anas poecilorhyncha zonorhyncha northern populations migrate to winter southern and eastern China; occasional west in Mongolia and to Lake Baikal, also Taiwan. Small numbers south to Thailand, Cambodia.

Occasional and Accidental

Vagrants of Anas poecilorhyncha zonorhyncha reach western Siberia, north-eastern India, Alaska, Philippines.



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Inland and coastal wetlands, preferring open, low ground, shallow freshwater lakes and marshes with abundant emergent vegetation, less often on rivers.

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Intraspecific variation

Eastern spot-billed duck (Anas poecilorhyncha zonorhyncha)
Indian spot-billed duck (Anas poecilorhyncha poecilorhyncha)

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Conservation Status

Wild Population -

Widespread and common (B1).

CITES listing --
Red-data book listing --
Threats Hunting considerable in some areas (B1).

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Captive Populations

Anas poecilorhyncha zonorhyncha and Anas poecilorhyncha poecilorhyncha fairly common in collections (B8).

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