This is a white-headed duck video from Spain.
14 Nov 2017
Tagging the Elusive White-headed Duck
Danara Zharbolova and Alyona Koshkina from our Kazakh partner ACBK tell us about their first attempts to catch and tag the elusive White-headed Duck with geolocators out on the lakes of the Central Kazakhstan.
The White-headed duck Oxyura leucocephala, with its long tail (often cocked vertically) and striking blue bill, is an unmistakable sight – if you are actually lucky enough to spot one out in the wild. European populations have markedly declined in the last 10 years due to habitat loss, making this famously elusive waterbird even more of a rarity. It is classified globally Endangered by the IUCN Red List. Due to its furtive behaviour and rarity, this species has not been studied extensively. In recent years, BirdLife and several of its partners have been working to change this. In 2015, the White-headed duck was selected as one of sixteen iconic European bird species for the EU-funded LIFE EuroSAP project which aims to address population decline on a continental scale. SEO-BirdLife Spain, together with AEWA (The African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement), has been coordinating efforts to identify threats and conservation measures to feed into a revised International Species Action Plan.
At the same time, BirdLife’s Kazakh partner ACBK (Association for the Conservation of Biodiversity of Kazakhstan) has been working to learn more about the migration of the Central Asia population which nests mainly in Northern and Central Kazakhstan and the steppes of Southern Russia.
This summer, ACBK, working with a group of ornithologists from Russia, tagged four White-headed ducks with geolocators at key moulting sites on the lakes of the Tengiz-Korgalzhyn Region of Central Kazakhstan.
Lake Ashchikol has become a popular site for moulting and migration gatherings for many waterbirds – pochards, grebes, coots, Red-necked phalaropes and White-headed ducks. Between the end of August and the end of September, some 2,500 White-headed ducks were counted within a 5 km2 area.
Aleksey Bagaev, one of the participants relates his experience: “We would start our field work at 4am. In the steppe, we would inflate the boat and lower it down onto the water. Then our small flotilla would spread the nets to catch the ducks. On the shore, we would talk tactics. As this bird-catching technique had never been used before, it was difficult to predict the outcome of our operation. We did know, however, that the White-headed duck is a very cautious bird and skilled diver.”
Team leader and ACBK Science Fellow, Alyona Koshkina, also told us a little bit about the work: “We chose lightweight geolocators because safe techniques for attaching heavier equipment onto this small bird have not yet been developed. This is a problem with studying diving ducks generally, as their specific biology must be taken into account. Considering how labour-intensive this process is, the chances of recapturing the same individuals are slim. We can now either perfect this method to improve results or continue looking for a different approach – but this is a challenge for future research projects.”
Though we were only able to tag a small number of birds, we were still able to learn a lot about the behaviour of this mysterious species, which will eventually lead to more efficient research techniques into bird migration. With support from the Rufford Foundation, in 2017 ACBK purchased 33 geolocators that we will use to tag nesting and moulting birds in the coming years.
This tagging work with our Russian colleagues from the NGO Ecological Centre Strizh was conducted as part of the Conservation Leadership Programme Knowledge Exchange project. ACBK has been studying the White-headed Duck since 2013 with support from the Forestry and Wildlife Committee of the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Kazakhstan and the Korgalzhyn State Nature Reserve.
Danara Zharbolova – Head of Communications, ACBK (BirdLife Kazakhstan)
Alyona Koshkina (ACBK Science Fellow)
This video shows northern shovelers in Sweden.
WARNING: The video you’re about to see contains graphic footage. Viewer discretion is advised.
Animal Equality documents the shocking reality of life for ducks and geese confined and force-fed for foie gras production in France.
• Animals confined to small cages in which the animals could not even turn around
• Animals with clear signs of stress and depression
• Evidence of trauma and inflammation of the esophagus – recognised by blood stains on force feeding tubes
• Animals with obvious respiratory problems
• Weak ducks left to die without veterinary care
• Ducks, who appeared fully aware of their situation at the time of slaughter. These animals were flapping, kicking, and bleeding incessantly
• Workers handling animals roughly
• Ducks moving with difficulty due to the size of their livers
France is the largest producer and exporter of foie gras. Over 20,000 tons are produced and approximately 700,000 geese and 37 million ducks are slaughtered by the French foie gras industry each year. Over 4,200 tons are consumed in Spain, and 850 tons are produced. Over 1,150,000 ducks are slaughtered by the Spanish foie gras industry each year.
Today, Dutch NOS TV reports that a vegan alternative to cruel anti-birds foie gras has been developed. Tasting similarly, but without any bird being harmed.
Belgian restaurant owner Paul Florizoone makes it, based on tofu and cereals.
It is already sold in Belgium. Today, it is introduced in the Netherlands.