Saturday, October 2, 2010

Madagascar Teal

The Madagascar Teal (Anas bernieri) is a small, reddish-brown duck that is endemic to (surprise!) Madagascar. They are also sometimes referred to as Bernier's Teal. They are found in a very specific area of Madagascar, namely the coastal regions on the western side of the island. They are endangered, with somewhere between 1,500 and 2,500 birds remaining in fragmented and declining populations. Extensive habitat loss has caused this downtrend.

Captive Teals at the Milwaukee County Zoo
Madagascar Teals are shy little guys, and live in small groups that change location based on the season. They feed off of invertebrates that are filtered through their bills, and they will occasionally upend themselves in deeper water to obtain food. During molting season they will also consume seeds of various aquatic plants.

Madagascar Teals nest in tree holes, often belonging to Grey Mangroves. Average clutch size is 6-7, and the eggs hatch after about four weeks. Madagascar Teals are monogamous and are extremely aggressive about guarding their nests. Chicks fledge after six weeks.

Captive breeding programs have been established to save this species, which faces extinction in the wild. The captive populations was founded by birds from the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust.

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