Thursday, October 4, 2012

Garganey

Anas querquedula
The Garganey is a species of dabbling duck that has a massive range covering nearly the entire Eastern Hemisphere (at one point or another). Their unusual name comes from an Anglicized version of an Italian word which is derived from the Latin gargala-- "Tracheal Artery."

The male Garganey is identified by the thick white line that runs over each eye, as well as by their brown neck and chest, and grey plumage elsewhere. Females are less distinctive, and look very similar to the female  Common Teals, which are a close relative (share the same genus). They have brown bodies, but darker face markings than the Teals.

During the breeding season you'll find these ducks in Europe and western Asia. They build their nests on the ground, near water, and lay as many as 14 eggs at the time. Incubation takes about three weeks and the young will fully fledge after 40 days.

The ducks don't stay at their breeding sites for long, since when winter comes they all migrate elsewhere. Some populations end up in Africa, others head towards India, and others still make their way out to Australia and various Pacific Islands.

It is estimated that there are around 2,700,000 Garganey ducks in the world right now-- quite the number! However, the population is on a decline, due to the reclamation of wetland breeding sites in Europe. Introduced species (like Mink) also affect their nest sites. The Garganey is legally hunted in some areas, and the practice appears to be sustainable.

IUCN Status : Least Concern
Location : Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia
Size : Length up to 16in (41cm)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Aves -- Order : Anseriformes
Family : Anatidae -- Genus : Anas -- Species : A. querquedula

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