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Birding Málaga


Common name White-headed duck
Scientific name Oxyura leucocephala
Type Waterbirds
Status Resident

Medium-sized (approx 48 cm or 19 in) and unmistakable duck. Males with thick, blue bill. Chubby and small body. Long tail, ending in tip and normally upright while swimming. Thick, white head with black crown and nape. The rest of the plumage (back, anal area, flanks and belly) is brown, darker in the upperparts than in the underparts. Similar females but more greyish, with dark bill, more ocher cheeks and a dark and wide band that crosses the eye. It is a diving duck.



Where it lives

Deep wetlands, both with fresh and brackish water, with dense marsh vegetation border.

How it lives

Species resident in the province although still a scarce breeder. Very territorial and aggresive in the breeding season. Nest among reeds. One laying in May of 5 to 10 eggs. The White-Headed Duck feeds on submerged plants and also consumes small invertebrates. It is able to travel great distances diving.

Where it can be seen in Malaga

Common species although not very abundant. It can be observed in the Fuente de Piedra and Campillos lagoons, in the mouth of the Guadalhorce (breeding point) and in the Cancelada reservoir (Estepona).

Curious facts

Its Latin name refers to a duck with a "tapered tail" and white head. The White-Headed Duck is a symbol of the conservation of wetlands. In 1977 there were scarcely a score of specimens in all of Europe, many located in a few lagoons in Cordoba. Nowadays it is a bird in expansion thanks to a private initiative that bought and protected those wetlands.

Wintering Summer Resident Migration