The African black duck is fairly common in both South Africa
and Zimbabwe, with small populations in other countries in southern Africa. It
is a river specialist, rarely straying away from rivers and streams. Its diet is
not well known, but it is thought to eat more invertebrates than it does plant
products. The female builds the nest, which is a deep bowl made of plant matter,
placed near water. It lays 4-11 eggs, which are incubated solely by the female. The ducklings are cared for by their mother, who is always alert
for predators. The chicks can usually can fly at 77 days old, after which they
Distribution and habitat
Fairly common in in both South
Africa and Zimbabwe, with a very small population in Namibia. It is a habitat
specialist, as it is found mainly in rivers and streams. It rarely moves into
wetlands, sewerage ponds and dams.
Its diet is not well known, but it
seems to eat more invertebrates than it does plant matter. It usually feeds by
dabbling, filtering or upending. The following food items have been
recorded in its diet:
Chironimid (midge) larvae
Oncorhynchus mykiss (Rainbow trout)
Pyracantha (firethorns) fruit
Quercus (oak) acorns
cultivated grain seeds
Monogamous, territorial solitary nester.
Courtship is quite elaborate, with neck biting, diving, and various other
The female builds the nest, which is a deep bowl, usually made of grass,
lined with down feathers. It is placed very close to the water, normally 2
metres away, surrounded by either grass, tangled roots or a hollow stump.
Laying dates are as follows:
North-eastern South Africa
Free State Province
It lays 4-11 eggs, in successive mornings.
Incubation is done solely by the female for 28-32 days. She normally
leaves the nest for about an hour two times daily, to join the male in
feeding, preening and bathing.
The ducklings are led by their mother to the water once dry. The mother
keeps them under cover, and protects them from predators. The chicks usually
feed by diving, or sometimes chasing insects along the water. They can fly
at 77 days old, after which they become independent.
The African black duck is not threatened, but because it is a river
specialist it is probably at risk from dam-building.
Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG (eds) 2005. Roberts
- Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker
Bird Book Fund, Cape Town.
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