The White-backed Duck (Thalassornis leuconotus) is a waterbird of the family Anatidae.
It is distinct from all other ducks, but most closely related to the whistling ducks in the subfamily Dendrocygninae, though also showing some similarities to the stiff-tailed ducks in the subfamily Oxyurinae (family Anatidae).
It is the only member of the genus Thalassornis, (Eyton, 1838).
Distribution / Range:
White-backed Ducks live in southern Africa, especially between Senegal and Chad in the west and Ethiopia and South Africa in the east. Their habitat consists of lakes, ponds, swamps and marshes where they are well camouflaged against predators.
There are two subspecies,
- Thalassornis leuconotus leuconotus and
- Thalassornis leuconotus insularis. The latter lives entirely on Madagascar and is considered to be endangered by hunting, habitat loss and the introduction of competing exotic species.
The White-backed Duck is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies.
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Diet / Feeding:
White-backed Ducks are excellent divers. They have been observed to stay under water for up to half a minute. Their favored foods are the bulbs of waterlilies.
Ducks generally feed on larvae and pupae usually found under rocks, aquatic animals, plant material, seeds, small fish, snails and crabs.
Feeding Ducks ...
We all enjoy ducks and many of us offer them food to encourage them to come over and stay around - and it works! Who doesn't like an easy meal!
However, the foods that we traditionally feed them at local ponds are utterly unsuitable for them and are likely to cause health problems down the road. Also, there may be local laws against feeding this species of bird - so it's best to check on that rather than facing consequences at a later stage.
- Foods that can be fed to Ducks, Geese and Swans to survive cold winters and remain healthy when food is scarce in their environment.
Please note that feeding ducks and geese makes them dependent on humans for food, which can result in starvation and possibly death when those feedings stop. If you decide to feed them, please limit the quantity to make sure that they maintain their natural ability to forage for food themselves - providing, of course, that natural food sources are available.
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