Oxyura leucocephala

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Rare and Endangered Animals of Armenia

The White-headed Duck

File:200px-White-headed.duck.jpg The White-headed Duck (Oxyura leucocephala) is a small stiff-tailed duck.

Adult males 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.

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 omnivorous, with vegetable matter predominating. 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.

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Animal in Armenia

Սավկա (“Savka”)


Included in the Red Book of the former Soviet Union.

Habitat in Armenia

Used to be met around Lake Sevan. Registered in the valley of Arax during flight periods. In 1928 – 1930 there birds were one of the most frequently met around Lake Gilli and Sevan next to Shorjha. The number started decreasing since 1939.

Number in the wild

Single species were registered next to Tsovaghyugh village on 15 – 17 February 1969. Has not been registered afterwards.

Reasons for decrease in number

Decrease of water level in Sevan. Freezing of Sevan.

Number in captivity

Not kept in the zoos of former Soviet Union.

Measures of protection taken

Catch is forbidden in the territory of Armenia.

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