African Black Duck

African Black Duck

Scientific Classification

Common Name
African black duck, black river duck
Genus Species
Anas (duck) sparsa

Fast Facts

The African black duck is black in color with white markings on the back.
Approximately 35 cm (14 in.)
316 to 502 g (11 to 18 oz.)
African black ducks have an omnivorous diet consisting of waterweeds and other aquatic vegetation, agricultural grain, fruits, aquatic insects and their larvae, crustaceans, larval amphibians, and fish spawn.
25 to 26 days
Clutch Size
7 to 8 eggs
Fledging Duration
6 weeks
Sexual Maturity
1 to 2 years
Life Span
Averages 20 to 30 years
This species has an extremely large range and can be found in Angola, Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Guinea, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
This species prefers fast-flowing shallow rivers and streams with rocky substrates, particularly in wooded and mountainous country up to 4,250 m (13,9436 ft.).
The total population is unknown but scientists believe there are at least 10,000 mature individuals. The population is decreasing but is not severely fragmented.
IUCN: Least Concern
CITES: Not listed
USFWS:  Not listed

Fun Facts

Males are called drakes, females are hens, and young are called ducklings.

African black ducks commonly feed in swift-running streams. They forage by either standing on top of partially submerged rocks and jabbing under the rocks with their bills or by diving in rapids or at the base of waterfalls.

The species is diurnal, usually resting at night and spending daylight hours feeding, sleeping, and preening.

Ecology and Conservation

The species is threatened by deforestation in Kenya. Since these ducks are river specialists, they are vulnerable to habitat loss through river degradation such as dam building, water extraction, siltation, pollution, and the clearing of riparian vegetation.

Hybridization of the species with Mallard Anas platyrhynchos is also a potential threat.


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Gotch, A.F. Birds - Their Latin Names Explained. UK. Blandford Books Ltd., 1981.

Johnsgard, P. Ducks, Geese, and Swans of the World. Lincoln. Univ. Of Neb. Press, 1978. 

Scott, P. A Coloured Key of the Wildfowl of the World. Slimbridge, England. The Wildfowl Trust. 1988.

Todd, F.S. Natural History of Waterfowl. San Diego, Ca. Ibis Publishing Co., 1996.

BirdLife International. 2016. Anas sparsa. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22680170A92847774. Downloaded on 30 November 2018.

Photo Credit: African_Black_Duck_RWD14.jpg. Source: Wikimedia Commons. Image by: Dick Daniels, Year Created: 21 March 2014. Website: License: CC by SA 3.0.