Aythya innotata

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Kingdom Animalia

Male Madagascar Pochard. Photo courtesy by Lily-Arison Rene de Roland. Copyright © The Peregrine Fund. All rights reserved.

Phylum Chordata 
Class Aves
Order Anseriformes
Family Anatidae
Authority (Salvadori, 1894)
 
English Name Madagascar Pochard
Czech Name Polák Madagaskarský
Danish Name Madagaskar Hvidřjet And
Dutch Name Madagaskarwitoogeend
French Name Fuligule de Madagascar
German Name Madagaskar-Moorente
Finnish Name Madagaskarinsotka
Italian Name Moriglione del Madagascar
Japanese Name マダガスカルメジロガモ, Madagasukarumejirogamo
Malagasy Name Fotsy maso
Polish Name Podgorzalka Madagaskarska
Spanish Name Porrón Malgache
 
Characteristics The Madagascar Pochard is a medium-sized diving duck of 45-56 cm. The male is dark chestnut-rufous coloured, except for his white eye, white undertail-coverts, and a conspicuous white wing-bar along the bases of his flight feathers. The female is duller brownish and lacks the white eye. The bill of this species is dull brown with a paler, bluish subterminal band. (BirdLife International 2006b)
 
Lifestyle This diving duck is usually seen alone, occasionally in pairs (Langrand 1990)
 
Range & Habitat The Madagascar Pochard is endemic to Madagascar, where it was found historically in the Lake Alaotra basin in the northern central plateau. It is confined to shallow freshwater lakes and marshes that combine open water with nearby areas of dense vegetation (Langrand 1990; Morris and Hawkins 1998). It probably prefers marshy areas and shallow water with significant vegetation over open-water habitats. (BirdLife International 2006ab)

 

Photo (upper): lake where the Madagascar Pochard has been rediscovered in 2006. Photographed by Lily-Arison Rene de Roland. Copyright © The Peregrine Fund. All rights reserved. 

 

Image (lower): range map of the Madagascar Pochard. Created by Peter Maas for The Extinction Website. The copyright holder of this work has released it into the public domain. This applies worldwide.

 
Food This bird feeds on invertebrates and aquatic plant seeds by diving frequently in shallow waters. (Langrand 1990)
 
Reproduction The clutch-size of this pochard is two and nesting has been observed during March-April. (Langrand 1990).
 
History & Population Decline of the Madagascar Pochard is likely to have begun in the 1940s and 1950s in connection with degrading lake and marshland habitat from introduced plant and fish species, conversion to rice paddies, and burning (The Peregrine Fund 2006). On the 9 June 1960, a flock of about 20 birds was seen near Ambatosoratra. One shot and stuffed pochard from this flock that can be found in the collection of the Zoological Museum Amsterdam, the Netherlands. After that only one unconfirmed sighting was noted in Antananarivo in 1970. Intensive searches (including major publicity campaigns) at Lake Alaotra during 1989-1990 failed to find any Madagascar Pochard. The species became considered extinct, until a live male was captured at Lake Alaotra in August 1991. This single male was kept in the Antananarivo Botanical Gardens until its death one year later (Wikipedia contributors 2006). During 1993-1994 and 2000-2001, new intensive searches failed to discover more birds. No other individual has been seen since 1991, and it was thought to have became truly extinct. (BirdLife International 2006; ZMA 2006; Wikipedia contributors 2006)
 
Extinction Causes Many of the smaller wetlands on the plateau have been drained now, and the larger Lake Alaotra suffers heavily from pollution, diminished water quality from soil erosion from deforested hillsides and more intensive agricultural practices (the area is one of Madagascar's major rice producers), depletion of food supplies and nest predation due to the introduction of exotic plants, mammals and fish. Hunting and trapping of adult Madagascar Pochards for food and death through entanglement in monofilament gill-nets, are probably also major elements in the decline of this species death.  (BirdLife International 2006ab; Pidgeon 1996; ZMA 2006)
 
Rediscovery In 2006, National Director for The Peregrine Fund’s Madagascar Project, Lily-Arison Rene de Roland, and field biologist, Thé Seing Sam, discovered the rare bird while conducting avian surveys in a remote part of northern Madagascar. They observed nine adults and four young that appeared to be nearly two weeks of age. Since their initial sighting, Rene de Roland and Sam have returned to the site to collect additional data and observations. (The Peregrine Fund 2006)
 
Conservation Attempts The government of Madagascar has ratified the Ramsar Convention, and Lake Alaotra may be proposed as a Ramsar Site. Searches for the species continue, as do education and awareness programmes on the benefits of maintaining natural wetlands. However, implementation of any conservation policy for the area will be very difficult due to Alaotra's huge economic importance for agriculture and fisheries (Pidgeon 1996). (BirdLife International 2006ab)

Conservation measures for the Madagascar Pochard underway and proposed include habitat protection and species restoration. The Peregrine Fund is collaborating with Madagascar’s Ministry of Environment, Water and Forests (MINENVEF) and several other conservation organizations to ensure a coordinated and effective approach is achieved. (The Peregrine Fund 2006)

 
Museum Specimens The Zoological Museum Amsterdam has one specimen, an adult male shot on 9 June 1960 near Ambatosoratra, southern Lake Alaotra, Madagascar. (BirdLife International 2006b)
 
Relatives The closest living relatives are the Common Pochard Aythya ferina, Canvasback Aythya valisineria, Redhead Aythya americana, Ring-necked Duck Aythya collaris, Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca, Baer's Pochard Aythya baeri, Hardhead Aythya australis, Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula, New Zealand Scaup Aythya novaeseelandiae, Greater Scaup Aythya marila, and the Lesser Scaup Aythya affinis. The White-backed Duck Thalassornis leuconotus has similar uniform colouration, a dark back and a white eye (in male).

Photo: Ferruginous Ducks (Aythya nyroca), left a female and right a male. Photographed by Erbanor in July 2005. The copyright holder of this work has released it into the public domain. This applies worldwide.

 
Links

BirdLife Species Factsheet - Madagascar Pochard (Aythya innotata)

BirdLife International - Diving duck resurfaces (20-11-2006)

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Aythya innotata

The Peregrine Fund - Bird Considered Extinct has Been Re-discovered

Madagascar Pochard - Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia

Aythya innotata - Madagascar Pochard specimen(s) in the ZMA

 
References BirdLife International 2006. Aythya innotata. In: IUCN 2006. 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 22 September 2006.

BirdLife International 2006. Species factsheet: Aythya innotata. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 22/9/2006.

Langrand, O. (1990) Guide to the birds of Madagascar. New Haven, USA: Yale University Press.

Morris, P. and Hawkins, F. (1998) Birds of Madagascar: a photographic guide. Robertsbridge, UK: Pica Press.

Pidgeon, M. (1996) Summary: an ecological survey of Lake Alaotra and selected wetlands of central and eastern Madagascar in analysing the demise of Madagascar Pochard Aythya innotata. Work. Grp. Birds Madag. Reg. 6: 17-19.

The Peregrine Fund. 2006. Madagascar Project Press Releases - Bird Considered Extinct has Been Re-discovered - Madagascar Pochard (20-11-2006).

Wikipedia contributors, 2006, 'Madagascar Pochard', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 12 July 2006, 22:11 UTC, <http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Madagascar_Pochard&oldid=63491005> [accessed 22 September 2006].

ZMA 2006. Aythya innotata - Madagascar Pochard specimen(s) in the ZMA. Bird Collection. Downloaded on 22 September 2006.

Last updated: 24th November 2006.

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