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African Black Duck
(Anas sparsa)

African Black Duck

General description

The monogomous African black duck is an almost entirely black duck with irregular white specks on its back and an iridescent green/purple patch on the wing. It is a medium-sized duck and sexes are similar in size but when seen in pairs the male is slightly larger. The bill is grey/black.

Juveniles are browner with whiter underparts.

Name & classification

Scientific name:
Anas sparsa

Common names:
African Black Duck, Black River Duck (English)
Swarteend (Afrikaans)

Roberts VII english name:
African Black Duck

Roberts VII scientific name:
Anas sparsa

Ducks, Geese and Swans (Anatidae)

Further information



These ducks are omnivorous and feed on larvae and pupae usually found under rocks, aquatic animals, plant material, seeds, small fish, snails and even crabs.

These are very shy and territorial ducks. They are usually seen in pairs or small flocks.

They breed throughout the year in different areas. Incubation is about 30 days by the mother and the fledgling period is 86 days. Only the mother takes care of the young. Their egg quantity ranges from 4 to 8 eggs.

This duck hides its nest near running water, but it is always above flood level and on the ground. The nest forms a cup shape and is constructed from matted grass, sticks and driftwood in dense grass or flood debris. It is lined with a dense layer of feathers and these are used to cover the eggs when the female ventures away from the nest. They are extremely well camouflaged.

Natural distribution:
The African Black Duck is mainly found in eastern and southern sub-Saharan Africa from South Africa north to South Sudan and Ethiopia with outlying populations in western equatorial Africa, in south east Nigeria, Cameroon and Gabon.

African Black Ducks prefer faster flowing rivers and streams in wooded areas although they are found on large open bodies of water too.

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