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Knob-billed duck: Species 383 on the Lolldaiga Hills Ranch Bird List

Yvonne de Jong & Tom Butynski, Lolldaiga Hills Research Programme

A flock of at least 20 knob-billed ducks Sarkidiornis melanotos was observed on 1 May 2017 at Dam Baharini, northern Lolldaiga Hills Ranch. This brings the total number of species on the Lolldaiga Hills Ranch Bird List to 383.

Adult female (left) and adult male (right) knob-billed ducks Sarkidiornis melanotos at Dam Baharini, northern Lolldaiga Hills Ranch. Photograph by Yvonne de Jong.

The knob-billed duck (or comb duck) has a wide distribution in Africa and Asia. This relatively large and distinctive duck prefers dams and pans surrounded by woodland. The male maintain a territory during the breeding season (wet season). The female nests close to water in tree cavities, abandoned bird nests (including those of hamerkop Scopus umbretta), walls of buildings, or on tree stumps. Knob-billed ducks feed on vegetable matter, aquatic insect larvae, and locusts.

The knob-billed duck is an intra-African migrant. Seasonal movements are related to water availability, but remain poorly-understood. Despite declining numbers, the knob-billed duck is assessed as ‘Least Concern’ on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The main treats are hunting, habitat destruction, poison, and avian influenza.

Adult female (right) and adult male (left) knob-billed ducks Sarkidiornis melanotos at Dam Baharini, northern Lolldaiga Hills Ranch. At the time of the encounter, newly filled Dam Baharini was hosting a high diversity of bird species, including yellow-billed stork Mycteria ibis. Photograph by Yvonne de Jong.

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