Cotton Pygmy-goose or Cotton Teal

The Cotton Pygmy-Goose or the Cotton Teal, Nettapus coromandelianus, is a small perching duck that breeds in India, Pakistan, southeast Asia, and south to northern Australia.

Male Cottonn Pygmy Goose

Cotton Pygmy-goose or Cotton Teal

Distribution / Range

It is largely resident, apart from dispersion in the wet season, but Chinese birds winter further south. It nests in tree holes, laying 8-15 eggs.

This is an abundant species in Asia, although the slightly larger Australian race appears to be declining in numbers.

Found on all still freshwater lakes (jheels), rain-filled ditches, inundated paddy fields, irrigation tanks, etc. Becomes very tame on village tanks wherever it is unmolested and has become inured to human proximity.

Swift on the wing, and can dive creditably on occasion.

Cotton Pygmy Goose


Small examples are the smallest waterfowl on earth, at as little as 160 g (5.5 oz) and 26 cm (10.5 in). White predominates in this bird’s plumage. Bill is short, deep at the base, and goose-like.

Male in breeding plumage is a glossy blackish green crown, with white head, neck, and underparts; a prominent black collar and white wing-bar.

The rounded head and short legs. In flight, the wings are green with a white band, making the male conspicuous even amongst the huge flying flocks of the Lesser Whistling Duck, which share the habitat.

Female paler, without either black collar and only a narrow or nonexistent strip of white wing-bar. In non-breeding plumage (eclipse) male resembles the female except for his white wing-bar. Flocks on water bodies (jheels), etc.

Male Cotton Pygmy Goose or the Cotton Teal, Nettapus coromandelianus - Male
Cotton Pygmy Goose

Breeding / Nesting:

The breeding season is July to September (SW. monsoon). They nest in tree holes – in a trunk standing in or near water. The nest is sometimes lined with grass, rubbish, and feathers. The hen lays 6 to 12 ivory white eggs.

Cotton Pygmy Goose or the Cotton Teal hen with hatchlings, Nettapus coromandelianus

Calls / Vocalizations

The Cotton Pygmy-Goose make peculiar clucking noises, uttered in flight

Diet / Feeding:

Their habitat is still freshwater lakes, where they feed on seeds and other vegetation, especially water lilies, crustaceans, insects, and pond vegetation.

Relevant Resources


Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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