Falcated Duck [All The Details You Should Know]

Falcated Duck [All The Details You Should Know]

Falcated Duck

The Falcated Duck, scientifically named Mareca falcata, is a duck species native to the East Asian regions – somewhere from eastern Siberia and Mongolia extending down to the northeastern parts of China and even northern Japan.

You’re probably wondering where it got its rather unusual name. The credit goes to its long, sickle-shaped feathers, quite fitting since ‘falcated’ translates to ‘sickle-shaped’ in English.

No other dabbling duck can quite match the male Falcated Duck’s appearance. With an iridescent head displaying tones of both green and copper, a silvery body highlighting distinct scalloping and long, curved tertials – it’s easy to spot in any crowd.

The female falcated duck, on the other hand, has a more subdued look. She strongly resembles a female Gadwall, sporting a more plain yet elegant look.

What Is the History of The Falcated Duck?

The history of Falcated Duck isn’t well documented. Its roots trace back to East Asia, primarily eastern Siberia, Mongolia, northeastern China, and northern Japan.

These ducks display a remarkable sense of adaptation. During winter, they migrate to warmer regions, mostly the northern parts of Southeast Asia up to northeastern India.

What are the Physical Characteristics of the Falcated Duck?

The Falcated Duck is a unique bird species. Its name comes from one of its most striking features. The term ‘falcated’ refers to something that’s sickle-shaped, much like the duck’s distinctive long curved tertials.

Male Falcated Duck

The male duck (drake) of the Falcated Duck species has a vibrant iridescent head that shines in hues of green and copper. Coupled with this is a mostly gray body that has a silvery sheen with distinct scalloping.

The drake also has an extremely long, sickle-shaped tertials that overlay the other wing feathers. It also has a white throat that starkly contrasts its colourful head and body.

Female Falcated Duck

The female Falcated Duck is relatively unassuming in her appearance. Her body is mostly dark brown, with plumage similar to a female wigeon. A long grey bill helps in identifying her, setting her apart from other species.

Unlike the male ducks, female ducks don’t have the signature falcated tertial feathers. When in flight, both genders flash a pale grey underwing. The blackish speculum found in both genders gets edged with a unique white bar on its inner side.

Size and Weight

Both males and females of the Falcated Duck species range from 46 to 53 cm (18–21 in) in length. In terms of weight, you’ll find them between 422 to 770 g (14.9–27.2 oz).

Despite the disparity in their physical appearance, the size and weight of both genders are quite similar.

What Are the Behavioral Characteristics of The Falcated Duck?

Here are the behavioral traits of the Falcated Duck.

Feeding Habits

The Falcated Duck is adaptable when it comes to food. As omnivores, these ducks eat a variety of items. Vegetable matter like seeds, aquatic plants, and rice are often on their menu. But, when greens are hard to come by, they won’t shy away from soft-shelled mollusks and small invertebrates.

Their unique technique of feeding, known as dabbling, involves ducking their heads underwater to reach for the underwater food. You will also find these birds grazing on dry land, picking seeds, and other food from the ground.

Mating and Reproduction

During the breeding season, the male Falcated Duck dons the role of a suitor. Their courtship ritual is as intricate as it is fascinating. The males woo the females with low-pitched whistle sounds and “oui trr” trilled sounds.

The ducks form seasonal monogamous pairs. After the pair is formed, the female gets busy building a nest near water, preferably amidst vegetation, laying the groundwork for the imminent arrival of the ducklings. The ducklings grow swiftly, developing flight feathers in just a few weeks.

Social Behavior

The Falcated Duck is a social duck. Often, these ducks gather in flocks, small to large, even mingling with other waterfowl species. Besides being adept swimmers and divers, they use their specialized bill for feeding on aquatic vegetation, varying from seeds to insects and small invertebrates.

During breeding season, the males undertake various courtship displays to charm the females. You may find them head-bobbing, wing-flapping, or voicing their interest. These displays are an essential part of the Falcated Duck’s social behavior.

Threats Faced by The Falcated Duck

Let’s now talk about the threats that the Falcated Duck faces.

Hunting

Remember how unique and vibrant a male Falcated Duck is? That’s a problem. Hunters are after these ducks for their meat and exotic feathers. You know where it’s worst? In China. High hunting pressure there is causing a quick drop in the duck’s numbers.

Habitat Loss

Another hurdle for these ducks is habitat loss. Draining wetlands for urbanization, farming, and industrial growth makes it tough for them. It wrecks their breeding grounds and takes away their food spots.

Take Nanhui county in the east end of China, it’s a vital site for these ducks during migration. With urban growth though, the environment there is now far from friendly.

Invasion of Alien Species

And if hunting and habitat loss aren’t enough, the Falcated Duck also has to deal with invasive species. These intruders fight with the ducks for resources, making survival even harder.

How Does the Falcated Duck Interact with Humans?

Humans rear the Falcated Duck for ornamental and commercial purposes. These ducks are easy to breed and quite hardy, which enhances their appeal in duck collections.

In the wild, interactions of these ducks with humans aren’t always as pleasant. Humans often hunt the Falcated Duck for food and feathers. This is particularly prevalent in some areas like China. This hunting pressure compounds the struggles faced by this duck species, further accelerating population decline.

Moreover, habitat loss is a grave threat to these ducks. As humans drain wetlands for urbanization, agriculture, and industry, these ducks find their living spaces shrinking. Even general human disturbances can bring about changes in waterfowl habitats and behavior. Such disturbances increase the ducks’ mortality rates, particularly in smaller lakes.

Nevertheless, it’s not all doom and gloom for the Falcated Duck. Efforts to safeguard this species are underway. These include population monitoring, hunting regulation, and creating alternative employment for local hunters.

What Is the Conservation Status of The Falcated Duck?

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has tagged the Falcated Duck as “Near Threatened”.

However, the Falcated Duck’s overall population beats the old bleak stats. It has shed its label of an endangered species. Protection for the breed comes under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Truth be told, the population of the species remains largely constant, even witnessing growth.

Yet, constant vigil needs to be paid in particular regions. Case in point: China. Here the Falcated Duck has been hit by moderately rapid declines. Conservationists have taken up the cause though and are monitoring these duck populations. They’re even planning to push for hunting and shooting regulations.

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