Black-headed Ducks

The Black-headed Ducks (Heteronetta atricapilla) are South American ducks.


These ducks are small and dark plumaged.

The male has a black head and mantle and a paler flank and abdomen.

Black-headed Duck (Heteronetta atricapilla) - Male in Breeding Plumage

The female has a mostly pale brown plumage.

Unlike other members of its family, it doesn’t have a stiff tail and swollen bill.

Black-headed Duck - Pair (Heteronetta atricapilla) - Male below


They occur naturally in North Chile, Paraguay, and North Argentina, where they live in swamps, lakes and marshes.

Nesting / Breeding

The Black-headed Ducks are obligate brood parasite, which lay their eggs in the nests of other birds, using Rosybill (Netta peposaca) and other ducks, coots (Fulica species), and occasionally even gulls and birds of prey as hosts for their broods.

Their eggs hatch after about 21 days and are independent within hours of hatching.

More Duck Resources

Diet / Feeding:

Black-headed ducks feed on seeds, roots and leaves of aquatic plants, as well as eating aquatic insects and crustaceans. They feed by diving.

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

Photo of author

Team Beauty of Birds's team of experts includes veterinarians, biologists, environmentalists and active bird watchers. All put together, we have over half a century of experience in the birding space.

You can meet our team here.