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Heteronetta atricapilla

Black-headed Duck

  • Order: Anseriformes
  • Family: Anatidae
  • Monotypic

Authors: Lowther, Peter E

Heteronetta atricapilla

Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil; 22 November 2009 © Cláudio Dias Timm

The Black-headed Duck is a small, teal-sized duck found in temperate South America. This species is unique among ducks in that it is an obligate brood parasite. In its interactions with its host species, Black-headed Ducks procure the services of incubation from the host; as a precocial species, parental care provided newly-hatched ducklings is minimal since Black-headed Duck young soon leave host broods. 

Recommended Citation

Lowther, Peter E. 2010. Black-headed Duck (Heteronetta atricapilla), Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online:

This map provided by Robert S. Ridgely.

  • Migration/Movement:Complex Migrant
  • Primary Habitat:Freshwater marshes
  • Foraging Strata:Water (below surface)
  • Foraging Behavior:Surface dive
  • Diet:Aquatic invertebrates
  • Sociality:Solitary
  • Mating System:Unknown
  • Nest Form:Nest Parasite
  • Clutch: -
  • IUCN Status:Least Concern