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Ducks and Geese in East Africa - from common to rare

Ducks and Geese in East Africa

Waterfowl – Order Anseriformes
Ducks, Geese and Swans belong to this order. The feathers of ducks and relatives are extremely water proof and their feet are webbed. A hard tip at the end of the beak serves picking plant material. Small hooks build lamella along the side of the beak to sieve small plant material out of the water. Nests are built in vegetation along lakes and rivers. Some defend their young vehemently. Still there are animals who find the nest and eat eggs and chicks. Sadly also uncontrolled dogs disturb the nests or even eat the chicks. Some humans like eating their eggs.

Ducks, Geese, Swans – Family Anatidae

Ducks and relatives are waterbirds. All swim, dive or float. The dense plumage is greased intensely with an oily substance from the well developed preen gland. Some live in pairs others search a new breeding partner in every breeding season. Sexual dimorphism is very visible in those changing partners. Some ducks like the African Black Duck feed and small water creature. They find them in the water or under stones.

To give you as actual information as possible we use Avibase, the books “Birds of Africa South of the Sahara”, “Birds of East Africa”, “Birds of Kenya and Northern Tanzania”. Then we put the most characteristic information to the photo.

You can also follow us on Facebook “Bird photography Safaris Kenya” and see the numerous species as well as the beautiful photos from Lorenzo Barelli.

Click on the photo for enlargement. Photographer’s names are indicated. Those photos without name are from Elvira Wolfer

East Africa has a large variety of ducks and geese. Join us on one of our birding tours to visit one of the lakes or swamps. 

Fulvous Whistling-Duck (Dendrocygna bicolor) lives at fresh water and is quite local. We often find them in the swamps in Amboseli.

White-faced Whistling-Duck (Dendrocygna viduata) is found at lakes, dams and lagoons and grassland near water. Sometimes large flocks are seen.

White-backed Duck (Thalassornis l. leuconotus) is locally common in some parts of Africa at waters with floating vegetation. Mostly you will meet them in pairs. 

Maccoa Duck (Oxyura maccoa) is very locally found in Eastern and Southern Africa. Pairs can be found at Great Rift Valley Lakes. This is the only stiff-tailed duck in the region. Photo by Per Holmen

African Pygmy Goose (Nettapus auritus) is widespread in Africa but rather scarcly distributed species on lakes with floating vegetation. Photo by Adam Scott Kennedy

Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca) is a widespread species at lakes and wetlands. They are good in alerting when danger approaches. Photo Lorenzo Barelli

Spur-winged Goose (Plectropterus g. gambensis) is widespread in wetlands in Africa. They are not that common and live mostly in pairs. Photo by Lorenzo Barelli & Joseph Mwangi

Knob-billed or comb Duck (Sarkidiornis melanotos) are met in pairs in wetlands in Africa. They are intra African migrants. Only males have this knob.

African Black Duck (Anas sparsa leucostigma) lives on streams and rivers, rarer on lakes. They feed mainly on small water creatures.

Yellow-billed Duck (Anas u. undulata) is widespread on lakes and rivers from Kenya, Uganda to Southern Africa. The subspecies rueppeli is found in Ethiopia, Northern Uganda, Northern Kenya and Eastern South Sudan.

Northern Pintail (Anas acuta) is a common paleartic migrant and can be met in East Africa on wetlands including alkaline lakes and estuaries from November to April. Photo by Lorenzo Barelli

Common Teal (Anas crecca) is a fairly common palearctic migrant to Rift Valley Lakes in Kenya and Albertine Rift as well as the Horn of Africa from October to April. Photo by Lorenzo Barelli

Cape Teal (Anas capensis) is locally common mainly on alcaline lakes but also fresh water lakes from East to Southern Africa.

Red-billed Teal (Anas erythrorhyncha) occurs on fresh water lakes and marshes from East to Southern Africa.

Gadwall (Mareca s. strepera) is an uncommon palearctic migrant to fresh water lakes in the Great Rift. Photo by Jacques Pitteloud

Eurasian Wigeon (Mareca penelope) is a an uncommon palearctic migrant to the Great Rift area, central Kenya and horn of Africa from November to March. Photos by Jacques Pitteloud

Northern Shoveler (Spatula clypeata) is a migrant from the North from October to April to inland waters in the horn of Africa. Photos von Lorenzo Barelli and Elvira Wolfer

Garganey (Spatula querquedula) is a palearctic migrant to East to West Africa. They are common and found on lakes and marshes from October to April. Photos by Lorenzo Barelli & Elvira Wolfer

Hottentot or Blue-billed Teal (Spatula hottentota) is locally common on fresh water lakes from the Horn of Africa to Southern Africa. They prefer lakes with floating vegetation.

Southern Pochard (Netta erythophthalma brunnea) is locally common on dams and alcaline lakes from East to Southern Africa. Occasionally many are on the Momella Lakes in Arusha National Park.

Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula) locally common palearctic migrant to Rift Valley lakes, Northern Tanzania and Southeastern Kenya from October to April. Photo Jacques Pitteloud