African Black Duck

Anas sparsa

At the Zoo

Our African black ducks can be found between the Leaping Lemur Cafe and koalas, across from the chimpanzees.

Fascinating Facts

Physical Characteristics

The African black duck is medium sized at about 14 inches long and weighing about a pound; males are noticeably bigger than females. They are blackish-brown with bold white markings on their back, wings and tail. Blue or purplish-blue bordered by white and black bands can be seen during flight. The bill is pale pinkish-grey to black and legs are brownish yellow to orange with yellow feet.

Lifespan is about 20 - 30 years.


African black ducks are found in eastern and southern Africa from Ethiopia to South Africa and westward to Namibia and Angola. They prefer shallow, fast-moving streams and rivers in wooded or mountain habitats. In more open and dry habitats they are found larger lakes, reservoirs and lagoons.

As omnivores, their diet consists of aquatic plants and insects, fruit, domestic grains, seeds, small fish and their eggs, crustaceans and larvae.

Social Behavior

These ducks do not migrate and are territorial. They live in smaller groups compared to other ducks, usually found solitary or in pairs. Although, they will occasionally form large flocks while roosting.

Breeding occurs throughout the year and varies depending on local populations. Nests are made near water in concealed ground cavities, among driftwood, in reedbeds or trees. Females incubate 4-8 eggs for about 30 days. Eggs are buff-yellow and slightly glossy. Newly hatched young are black and downy. Males do not help care for chicks and the fledgling period is around 86 days.

Status In The Wild

African black ducks are listed as least concern by the IUCN. They are widespread and populations are stable throughout most of their range. Despite fairly large populations they are threatened by deforestation and habitat loss, especially in Kenya. River and wetland degradation such as dam building, water extraction, siltation, pollution, and clearing of aquatic vegetation are also concerns for this species.

Animals & Exhibits