This species is listed as Near Threatened owing to its moderately small population size and ongoing declines resulting from a variety of threats. Further quantitative estimates of the rate of decline may qualify the species for Vulnerable.
Dowsett, R. J.; Forbes-Watson, A. D. 1993. Checklist of birds of the Afrotropical and Malagasy regions. Tauraco Press, Li
Sibley, C. G.; Monroe, B. L. 1990. Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the world. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.
Distribution and populationOxyura maccoa
46-51 cm. Male has a black head extending to the hindneck and throat. Bright blue bill. Chestnut body and short, stiff black tail often held erect. The female is largely brown with a pale throat and cheek stripe below the eye and faintly barred flanks. Similar spp. No similar species within the range.
has a large range, with the global population estimated to be 9,000-11,750 individuals and divided into a northern population occurring in Eritrea
, and a southern population found in Angola
, South Africa
(Berruti et al.
2005, 2007). South Africa supports the largest national population with 4,500-5,500 individuals (Berruti et al.
. The total population for southern Africa is approximately 7,000-8,250 individuals. In East Africa and Ethiopia the main populations occur in Ethiopia (500-2,000) and Kenya (1,000), with an estimated 2,000-3,500 individuals in total (Berruti et al.
. Population justification
The global population is estimated to be 9,000-11,750 individuals, roughly equivalent to 6,000-7,900 mature individuals.Trend justification
The northern population of this species has suffered severe declines, perhaps by 50% in the last 10 years (Berruti et al.
2007). The larger southern population appears stable after a period of range expansion and possible population increase (Berruti et al
. 2005) but is considered smaller than previously thought and declines may have begun (Berruti et al.
2007). This information suggests that the overall population is in decline at a slow to moderate rate.EcologyBehaviour
This species is mainly sedentary (Kear 2005)
but undertakes some small-scale post-breeding dispersive movements in search of suitable habitat during the dry season (Kear 2005)
. It is not thought to cover distances greater than 500km (Berruti et al.
. Breeding has been recorded in South Africa from July to April, with a peak during the wet season months of September to November (Johnsgard 1978)
. Further north breeding has been recorded in all months, and appears to be dependent upon rainfall (Berruti et al.
. Breeding occurs in single pairs or loose groups (del Hoyo et al
, with a density of up to 30 birds per 100 hectares (Johnsgard and Carbonell 1996)
and with males defending territories as large as 900 square metres (
Johnsgard 1978, Johnsgard and Carbonell 1996). During the non-breeding season the species is more congregatory (Berruti et al.
, forming flocks of up to 1000 individuals (Kear 2005)
. Habitat Breeding
During the breeding season it inhabits small temporary and permanent inland freshwater lakes (Berruti et al.
, preferring those that are shallow and nutrient-rich (Johnsgard 1978, Johnsgard and Carbonell 1996)
with extensive emergent vegetation such as reeds (Phragmites spp.
) and cattails (Typha spp.
) (Johnsgard and Carbonell 1996)
on which it relies for nesting. It prefers areas with a bottom of mud or silt and minimal amounts of floating vegetation, since this provides the best foraging conditions (Johnsgard and Carbonell 1996)
. It also breeds on man-made habitats, such as small farm wetlands in Namibia, and sewage-farm basins (Johnsgard 1978, Johnsgard and Carbonell 1996)
Outside the breeding season it will wander over larger, deeper lakes and brackish lagoons (del Hoyo et al
. 1992, Berruti et al.
. It is thought to find refuge on the larger lakes while moulting (Berruti et al.
This species feeds primarily on benthic invertebrates including fly larvae (Diptera), Tubifex
eggs and small fresh-water molluscs (Johnsgard 1978, Johnsgard and Carbonell 1996)
. It will also feed on algae, the seeds of Persicaria
(Johnsgard 1978, Berruti et al.
2005, 2007), and the seeds and roots of other aquatic plants (Johnsgard and Carbonell 1996)
. It forages by diving and straining the benthic substrate with its bill (Johnsgard 1978, del Hoyo et al
. Breeding Site
The species tends to nest over deeper water among emergent vegetation (Berruti et al.
. The nest is usually constructed from reeds and cattails that have been bent down to form a basin (Johnsgard and Carbonell 1996)
, although old nests of Red-knobbed Coots Fulica cristata
may sometimes be used. Threats
Currently the links between population trends and threats facing this species are poorly understood. Pollution is a primary concern, since the species feeds mainly on benthic invertebrates, and is therefore more vulnerable to bio-accumulation of pollutants than other duck species (Berruti et al.
. Habitat loss as a result of the drainage and conversion of wetland areas for agriculture is also a significant threat (Berruti et al.
, as are rapid changes in water level that result from landscape changes such as deforestation and can severely disrupt the breeding activity of the species (Berruti et al.
. There is a high level of accidental mortality from entanglement in gill nets (Berruti et al.
. Hunting and poaching, competition with alien benthic fish and habitat alteration by introduced plants all pose less serious threats (Berruti et al.
. Conservation actions underway
In Kenya and Tanzania approximately 80% of the population is thought to occur in protected areas whereas in southern Africa this figure is much lower, with approximately 20% in South Africa and just 10% in Namibia (Berruti et al.
. Conservation actions proposed
Protect key wetland sites from the threat of drainage or habitat conversion. Determine the impact of pollution on the population. Prevent exploitation of the species. Limit habitat modification by alien invasive plants. Assess the impact of competition from alien benthic fish. Grant Protected Animal status for the species in Botswana (Hancock 2008), and the legal status of the species should be examined in the countries where it currently has no protection (Berruti et al.
Johnsgard, P. A. 1978. Ducks, geese and swans of the World. University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln and London.
del Hoyo, J.; Elliot, A.; Sargatal, J. 1992. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 1: Ostrich to Ducks. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.
Simmons, R.E.; Brown, C.J. 2006. Birds to watch in Namibia: red, rare and endemic species. National Biodiversity Programme, Windhoek.
Kear, J. 2005. Ducks, geese and swans volume 2: species accounts (Cairina to Mergus). Oxford University Press, Oxford, U.K.
Berruti, A.; Baker, N.; Buijs, D.; Colahan, B. D.; Davies, C.; Dellegn, Y.; Eksteen, J.; Kolberg, H.; Marchant, A. H.; Mpofu, Z.; Nantongo-Kalundu, P.; Nnyiti, P.; Pienaar, K.; Shaw, K.; Tyali, T.; van Niekerk, J.; Wheeler, M. J. 2005. International Maccoa Duck Oxyura maccoa Action Plan.
Berruti, A.; Baker, N.; Buijs, D.; Colahan, B.D.; Davies, C.; Dellegn, Y.; Eksteen, J.; Kolberg, H.; Marchant, A.; Mpofu, Z.; Nantongo-Kalundu, P.; Nnyiti, P.; Pienaar, K.; Shaw, K.; Tyali, T.; van Niekerk, J.; Wheeler, M.J.; Evans, S.W. 2007. International Single Species Action Plan for the conservation of the Maccoa Duck Oxyura maccoa. AEWA, Bonn.
Johnsgard, P.A. and Carbonell, M. 1996. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, USA.
Further web sources of information
African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement (AEWA) International Action Plan 2007
View photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection
Text account compilers
Bird, J., Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J., Martin, R, Ndang'ang'a, P., Symes, A., Taylor, J.
Berruti, A., Butchart, S., Dereliev, S., Hines, C., Simmons, R., Tyler, S.
IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Taylor, J.
BirdLife International (2013) Species factsheet: Oxyura maccoa. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 23/05/2013.
Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2013) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 23/05/2013.
This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000)
Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004)
Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.
To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife
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Additional resources for this species