White-headed Duck (Oxyura leucocephala)

White-headed Duck (Oxyura leucocephala)

The White-headed Duck (Oxyura leucocephala) is a small stiff-tailed duck.

Close up Image of White-headed Duck
Close up Image of White-headed Duck


Adult male white-headed ducks have a grey and reddish body, a blue bill, and a largely white head with a black cap and neck.

Adult females have a grey-brown body with a white face and a darker bill, cap, and cheek stripe.

Range / Distribution:

This duck breeds in Spain and North Africa, with a larger population in western and central Asia. Their breeding habitat is large tracts of open water with dense stands of aquatic plants to provide cover and nesting sites.

These birds dive and swim underwater. They are reluctant to fly, preferring to swim for cover.

This duck is considered endangered due to a large reduction in population in the last ten years. Most of this decline is due to habitat loss and hunting, but interbreeding of the Spanish population with the introduced Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis) is a more recent threat. This has led to the attempted eradication of the American species from Western Europe.

The White-headed Duck is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies.


  • Bird Life International (2006). . In: IUCN 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 11 May 2006. Database entry includes justification for why this species is endangered

White-headed Duck Float in the Water
White-headed Duck Float in the Water

Diet / Feeding:

White-headed ducks are omnivorous, with vegetable matter predominating.

Ducks generally feed on larvae and pupae usually found under rocks, aquatic animals, plant material, seeds, small fish, snails, and crabs.

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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button