The number of Spanish ducks in Spain has been declining over the recent years. This has led to conservation efforts to try and breed some species that are in the blink of extinction.
There are ducks in Spain. Although there are just three species of ducks that I have found, there are other species that migrate to and from mainland Spain and her Islands that are yet to be documented.
Two species of ducks have been known to habit the Spanish wetlands from the last 100 years but now countable birds live to be seen. These are the marbled duck and the white headed duck.
Mallards are another duck species that is known to habit some areas in Spain. So, the white headed duck, marbled ducks and mallards are the three duck species that live in Spain.
some of these birds that habit Spain are also common Florida ducks.
Let’s get into details and get a better understanding of what causes the rarity of some of these duck species in Spain.
Marbled Ducks or marbled teal
This species is known to roam vast areas of North Africa, South Europe, Central and Western parts of Asia because they are migratory birds.
They are on the red list of the endangered species of ducks and only a very few of them roam freely wild. Several years ago, these birds bred in thousands and large flocks were common along the migratory corridor but this is not the case anymore.
In winter months, they would migrate from the Mediterranean to the Sahel where temperatures were high. Now they are only found in a few isolated areas in southern Italy, Spain and North Africa.
Several causes have led to the decline of these birds. They include:
Many of these birds have lost their lives on the hands of poachers. Uncontrolled poaching has killed thousands of these ducks bringing their numbers to almost zero.
Poachers who are licensed arm holders end up killing these birds to fill their appetite for duck meat. The best way is to barn killing of these birds for meat or sport completely.
Educating poachers and including them in the conservation efforts will also help raise the numbers of these critically endangered species.
There are several unknown causes that are a threat to the marbled ducks. These causes have lead to the deaths of these birds.
Some causes like pollution, use of strong agricultural chemicals are some of the reasons that are contributing to a high mortality in these birds.
These birds have a number of predators that hunt them down for food. Birds of prey like hawks are a serious threat and often strike them as they make a favorite meal.
Power line collision
As they migrate, many of these birds are said to hit power lines and end up being electrocuted to death. Power lines have been known in many areas to kill large flocks especially when it is raining and foggy.
However, birds will hit power lines mainly at night when it is too dark and the visibility is poor. Additionally, naked power cables that are not coated are very dangerous as some contain very high voltage current.
White headed duck
The white headed ducks are another common duck species in Spain. They are among the endangered birds that have been listed on the red list of birds that face the danger of extinction.
These birds are odd looking with long stiff tails that appear cocked and are excellent divers. They can be easily mistaken with Rudy ducks except that they are very silent and will rarely fly.
Females and teenage ducks have a dark crown and brown bills with their cheeks being pale. Males have a chestnut body with their unique large blue bills. Additionally, face is white while the crown is black in color.
These species are small in size and are often seen in shallow edges of lakes like Cayuga ducks where they breed and raise their young. Their favorite diet is mainly composed of small aquatic animals and vegetation.
They are commonly seen in Spain, the Northern part of Africa, Central and West Asia. Destruction of their habitat and loss of many water plants where they build their nests has led to a serious decline in their numbers.
They are the most common duck species that are found in open ponds. Mallard ducks are large to medium sized birds that are very friendly as they love treats from people.
Mallards are easy to identify as the males have grey heads that gleam and shine when they are struck by light. Their flanks are gray with their tails having a curl.
They are known to molt as they shed all their feathers and become less active for more than a month awaiting growth of a new plumage.
Mallards are common in shallow edges of water bodies where they feed on fish, small water plants and insects.
They are also known to love grazing a lot and will be seen at the banks eating grass. Grains are also part of their diet as people often volunteer to feed them.
What other birds are found in Northern Spain?
Other than ducks, there are other bird species found in Northern Spain. These are: Alpine Accenter, Lammergeier, Snowfinch, Citril Finch, Duponts Lark, Iberian Chiffchaff, Pin tailed and Black bellied Sandgrouse, Griffon Vulture, Black Wheatear, Rock Sparrow, Wall Creeper and the Spotless Starling.
The best way we can do to conserve the numbers of ducks is through education. This will help create awareness on the importance of these birds in the ecosystem especially to the young generation.
Poachers are the leading cause of duck mortality and they need to be included in the conservation list. There should be a limit on the number of birds to be hunted per season or a complete ban if need be.
Young children need to be taught the importance of having these bird species in the ecosystem. Enforcement can also help to fix the mess where education cannot. If this can be a way that offers solution to this problem, then so be it.