White-headed Duck (Oxyura leucocephala)

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

White-headed Duck (Oxyura leucocephala)


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 a cheek stripe.

Male White-headed Duck (Oxyura leucocephala)
White-headed Duck (Oxyura leucocephala)
White-headed Duck (Oxyura leucocephala)

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 populations 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.


  • BirdLife 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 (Oxyura leucocephala) - Male
Male White-headed Duck (Oxyura leucocephala)

White-headed Duck (Oxyura leucocephala)

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

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