Distribution and breeding ecology of the Ferruginous Duck (Aythya nyroca) in Algeria

Djelailia, A., Baaziz, N., Samraoui, F., Alfarhan, A. H. & Samraoui, B. (2017). Distribution and breeding ecology of the Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca in Algeria. Ostrich 0(0) DOI: 10.2989/00306525.2017.1313331


We conducted a survey of the distribution of Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca across Algeria and analysed the influence of nest-site characteristics on nesting success at a Ramsar site, Lake Tonga. The species was found to occupy different wetlands (freshwater lakes, brackish marshes and salt lakes) across three major climatic belts (subhumid coastal strip, semi-arid Hauts Plateaux and arid Sahara). Mean clutch size of successful nests was 13.3 ± 6.0 eggs (N = 26) with a hatching rate of 74% for successful clutches. Nesting success was recorded for 44% of nests with clutch desertion (72.7%) accounting for the majority of failed clutches. Egg size of the study population, which breeds at the southern limit of the species’ range, was significantly smaller than that of its northerly counterparts. Clutch size was negatively related to egg size and positively associated with depth of water below the nest, suggesting that older, more experienced or high-quality birds monopolised the safest sites. Successful clutches were significantly associated with tall vegetation, suggesting that when nesting is carried out mainly on offshore floating islets, protection against aerial predators and heat stress determine nesting outcome. Conspecific brood parasitism was significantly and positively associated with deferred egg-laying and smaller egg size, suggesting an age-dependent mechanism.

Distribution et reproduction du Fuligule nyroca Aythya nyroca en Algérie

Nous avons mené une enquête sur la distribution du Fuligule nyroca Aythya nyroca à travers l’Algérie en analysant l’influence des caractéristiques des sites de nidification sur le succès de la nidification au sein d’un site classé Ramsar: le Lac Tonga. L’espèce occupe différentes zones humides (lacs d’eau douce, marais d’eau saumâtre et lacs salés) à travers trois zones climatiques majeures (bande côtière subhumide, Hauts Plateaux semi-arides et Sahara). La grandeur de ponte moyenne est de 10,0 ± 2,96 œufs (N = 29 pontes) avec un taux d’éclosion de 74,7% pour les pontes réussies. Le taux de réussite a totalisé 44% des nids, avec une prédominance d’abandons des pontes causant l’échec de la reproduction (82%). La taille des œufs de la population étudiée est plus petite que celle des populations se reproduisant à des latitudes plus élevées. La grandeur de ponte est négativement associée à la taille des œufs et elle est positivement liée au niveau de l’eau: ceci suggère que les individus plus âgés, ayant plus d’expérience, ou ceux de meilleure qualité monopolisent les sites les plus sûrs. Les pontes réussies sont significativement associées à une végétation haute, suggérant que pour les nids construits sur des îlots flottants, une protection contre les prédateurs aériens et l’exposition au soleil, conditionne le succès de la nidification. Le parasitisme intra-spécifique a été positivement associé à une ponte tardive et à des dimensions réduites des œufs, suggérant un mécanisme dépendant de l’âge.

Ferruginous Duck (Aythya nyroca). Photo: Francis C. Franklin / CC-BY-SA, Wikipedia

Ferruginous Duck (Aythya nyroca). Photo: Francis C. Franklin / CC-BY-SA, Wikipedia

Nesting ecology of Ferruginous Duck (Aythya nyroca) in north-eastern Algeria

Fouzari, A., Samraoui, F., Alfarhan, A. H. & Samraoui, B. (2015). Nesting ecology of Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca in north-eastern Algeria. African Zoology 50: 299–305. doi: 10.1080/15627020.2015.1108165
PDF in ResearchGate.net


The status of waterbirds breeding in protected areas in North Africa needs constant monitoring because of a naturally fluctuating environment and permissive attitudes towards illegal activities likely to negatively affect population dynamics of threatened species. We present the results of a study conducted at a protected site, Lake Tonga, north-eastern Algeria, on a breeding population of Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca, a Near-Threatened duck subjected to considerable pressure from egg-pilfering and illegal hunting. Two distinct habitats within the lake were used by Ferruginous Duck: an Alder carr (Alnus glutinosa) and floating islets across the lake. The mean clutch size was 9.51±1.84 eggs (N = 51 clutches) with hatching rate of 80.7% for successful clutches. Breeding success was low (37%) with predation (33%) and clutch desertion (17%) accounting for the majority of failed nests. The probabilities of nest failure and nest desertion increased with a delayed onset of egg laying. Predation was not significantly associated with egg laying date and vegetation cover, but late breeders nesting in dense vegetation seemed to suffer less predation. Conspecific brood parasitism was positively associated with nest size, whereas interspecific brood parasitism was marginally associated with water depth. We discuss different hypotheses concerning nest desertion, and argue that illegal hunting and disturbance may best explain why birds desert their nests.

Ferruginous Duck (Aythya nyroca)

Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca (photo: Tony Smith, in flickr CC BY)


Factors influencing species-richness of breeding waterbirds in Moroccan IBA and Ramsar wetlands

Cherkaoui, S. I., Hanane, S., Magri, N., El Agbani, M.-A. & Dakki, M. (2015). Factors influencing species-richness of breeding waterbirds in Moroccan IBA and Ramsar wetlands: a macroecological approach. Wetlands 35(5): 913–922.
doi: 10.1007/s13157-015-0682-y


Since 2005, Morocco has designated 28 Important Bird Areas (IBA) and Ramsar wetlands for waterbirds, yet little is known about how waterbird communities are changing over time and space, within and between sites. We assessed the relationships between species numbers of overall breeding waterbirds, as well as those of Anatidae, Rallidae and Podicipedidae, and geographical, topographical and macrohabitat factors. Species richness of overall waterbirds and Anatidae were positively correlated with: (i) extent of emergent vegetation, (ii) number of plant species present, and (iii) altitude. Species richness of Rallidae was positively correlated with: (i) latitude, and (ii) different beds of emergent vegetation, while that of Podicipedidae was exclusively correlated with altitude. These results suggest that breeding waterfowl are significantly related to habitat characteristics, most importantly vegetation structure, and altitude. Our findings give support to the idea that large mountain wetlands protected areas provide valuable habitat to breeding waterbirds in this region, by providing larger buffer zones with fewer human activities, such as hunting, urbanization and tourism disturbance. This study provides a platform from which we can advance the scientific research on Moroccan IBA and Ramsar wetlands.

Phenology and diurnal behaviour of the Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata) in the Guerbes-Sanhadja wetland complex (north-eastern Algeria)

Amor Abda, W., Merzoug, S., Belhamra, M. & Houhamdi, M. (2015). Phenology and diurnal behaviour of the Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata in the Guerbes-Sanhadja wetland complex (north-eastern Algeria). Zoology and Ecology 25(1): 19–25.  doi: 10.1080/21658005.2014.994361
PDF in ResearchGate.net


An ecological study of the Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata in the wetlands of the Guerbes-Sanhadja eco-complex (Skikda, north-eastern Algeria) which was performed during wintering season (from September 2012 to March 2013) showed that the species was regularly wintering in these ecosystems during the seven months of observation. The highest numbers were recorded during December 2012 (1943 individuals) at Garaet Hadj-Taher, although this wetland was the last to be colonized if we compare it to other wetlands. Garaet Hadj-Taher hosted more than half of the wintering population of the Northern Shoveler in the Guerbes-Sanhadja eco-complex. Sleeping activity (diurnal resting) dominated over other diurnal behaviours of this Anatidea at Garaet Hadj-Taher by representing almost two-thirds of total results (63.74%). This activity was observed among gathered individuals in the centre of this wetland. The second place was taken by swimming (15.10%) followed by preening (10.49%), feeding (7.03%) and finally flying (3.64%), showing the results of diurnal counting for the Northern Shoveler in Garaet Hadj-Taher and all other wetlands in the Guerbes-Sanhadja complex.

Habitat use and distribution of the Ruddy Shelduck (Tadorna ferruginea) in the wetland complex of Oued Righ, Algerian Sahara

Nouidjem, Y., Saheb, M., Bensaci, E., Bouzegag, A., Guergueb, E.-Y. & Houhamdi, M. (2015). Habitat use and distribution of the Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea in the wetland complex of Oued Righ (Algerian Sahara). Zoology and Ecology 25(1): 26–33. doi:10.1080/21658005.2014.997995
PDF in ResearchGate.net


Our study conducted from August 2007 to May 2011 in the main wetlands of the Oued Righ complex (Eastern Sahara of Algeria) aimed to study the habitat use and distribution pattern of the Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna ferruginea. As the species was recorded breeding at most sites of the wetland complex, it was given the resident breeder status, which differs from the one it had previously. The maximum number of Ruddy Shelducks (284 individuals) was recorded each year during the winter season (second half of December). The Ruddy Shelduck (60% of population) shows preference for shallow middle-sized salt ponds with a high proportion of open water (e.g. Chott Tindla and Chott Sidi Slimane). No interannual variations were observed in habitat use; moreover, seasonal variations in the use of shallow salt pond habitat may be the outcome of hot and dry climate of this arid region.

Ruddy Shelduck (Tadorna ferruginea), Timgad, Batna, Algeria

Ruddy Shelduck (Tadorna ferruginea), Timgad, (W. Batna), north-eastern Algeria. (photo: Raouf Guechi).

5 Nettes rousses (Netta rufina) au Barrage Chiba, Cap Bon (Tunisie)

Cinq Nettes rousses (Netta rufina), 3 mâles et 2 femelles, ont été observées au Barrage Chiba au Cap Bon (Tunisie) le 14 janvier 2015 lors de la campagne de recensement hivernal des oiseaux d’eau. La Nette rousse est une hivernante rare en Tunisie.

Five Red-crested Pochards (Netta rufina), 3 males and 2 females, were observed in Chiba Reservoir, Cap Bon (Tunisia) during this winter waterbirds census on 14 January 2015. The Red-crested Pochard is a rare wintering visitor in Tunisia.

Mohamed Ali Dakhli / Birding Tunisia.

Hichem Azafzaf (Association “Les Amis des Oiseaux”, AAO) a aussi observé l’espèce dans le même site et voici leur commentaire:

“Durant la campagne de recensement des oiseaux d’eau hivernants en Tunisie cette année, j’ai pu observer au Barrage Chiba (Gouvernorat de Nabeul) deux mâles de Nette rousse (Netta rufina), espèce considérée comme hivernante rare en Tunisie.

During the Mid-winter Waterbird Census in Tunisia this year, I have observed in the Chiba dam reservoir (Governorate of Nabeul) two males Red-crested Pochard (Netta rufina), a species considered to be rarely wintering in Tunisia”.

Nette rousse (Netta rufina), Cap-Bon, Tunisie

Nette rousse – Red-crested Pochard (Netta rufina), Barrage Chiba, Cap Bon, Tunisie, 14 janvier 2015. (photo: Mohamed Ali Dakhli / Birding Tunisia).

Red-crested Pochard - Nette rousse (Netta rufina)

2 males Red-crested Pochard – Nette rousse (Netta rufina), Barrage Chiba, Governorate of Nabeul (= Cap Bon), Tunisia, January 2015. (photo: Hichem Azafzaf / Association “Les Amis des Oiseaux”, AAO).

Status and diurnal activity budget of non-breeding White-headed Ducks (Oxyura leucocephala) in Algeria

Meziane, N., Samraoui, F. & Samraoui, B. 2014. Status and diurnal activity budget of non-breeding White-headed Ducks Oxyura leucocephala in Algeria. Ostrich 85: 177–184. doi: 10.2989/00306525.2014.964790
PDF in ResearchGate.net


In Algeria, the Globally Endangered White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala is resident throughout the year in the coastal wetlands of north-east Algeria and the Hauts Plateaux, where it occupies habitats that range from freshwater ponds and brackish marshes to hypersaline lakes. In autumn and winter, at two study sites sleeping (49% and 68%) and resting (9% and 20%) dominated, whereas feeding (7% and 10%) represented a minor proportion of, diurnal activities. There was no marked seasonal change in the activity pattern, as would be expected for a resident bird. The breeding and winter distributions of the species were similar, but seasonal and diel patterns of dispersion among habitats remain poorly known. Human encroachment on wetland habitat, habitat degradation and illegal hunting in protected areas are the major threats to the persistence of the species and probably similar threatened species in Algeria.

Plus d’articles sur l’Érismature à tête blanche (Oxyura leucocephala).

White-headed Duck (Oxyura leucocephala)

White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala (Wikimedia commons, user: BS Thurner Hof)

Le retour du Fuligule milouin (Aythya ferina) nicheur dans la réserve naturelle du Lac de Réghaia, Algérie

Lardjane-Hamiti, A., Metna, F., Sayaud, M. S., Boukhemza, M. & Houhamdi, M. 2014. Le retour du Fuligule milouin Aythya ferina nicheur dans la réserve naturelle du Lac de Réghaia (Alger, Algérie). In: Feltrup-Azafzaf, C., Dain, M., Brochet, A.L., Defos du Rau, P., Mondain-Monval, J.Y. & Azafzaf, H. (eds.). Bulletin of the network “Mediterranean Waterbirds”, No. 2. AAO, ONCFS, Tour du Valat. pp: 42-43. PDF

Common Pochard Aythya ferina breeding back in the Réghaia Lake nature reserve (Alger, Algeria).

Extrait du texte:

“Les derniers cas de nidification du Fuligule milouin (Aythya ferina) rapportés en Algérie ont été signalés par Heim de Balsac et Mayaud en 1962 au niveau du Lac Fetzara (Annaba) et au Lac Tonga (Parc National d‘El-Kala)……

C’est en avril 2009 que le groupe ornithologique du centre cynégétique de Réghaia a signalé la présence des nids de cette espèce. L’Algérie représente donc une nouvelle zone de reproduction pour le Fuligule milouin. L’étude de l’écologie de la reproduction de six nids installés durant l’année 2010 a révélé une taille de ponte moyenne avoisinant 8,16 œufs/nid. Les nids sont installés dans les touffes de Massettes à feuilles étroites Typha angustifolia…….”.

Voir aussi:

Lardjane-Hamiti, A., Metna, F., Sayaud, M.-S., Guelmi, M., Boukhemza, M. & Houhamdi, M. 2012. Le Fuligule milouin Aythya ferina nicheur dans la réserve naturelle du Lac de Réghaia (Alger, Algérie). Alauda 80: 151–152.  PDF


Breeding evidence of Common Pochard Aythya ferina at Lake Réghaia (North Algeria).

After an absence of nearly 50 years, breeding was again assessed for the Common Pochard in Algeria. Nesting was found in 2009 and 2010 at Lake Réghaia. The six nests found in 2010 showed a mean clutch size of 8.16 eggs/nest. The first hatching occurred in May and the last one in the first week of July. Hatching success was of 66.66 %. The main causes of hatching failure were predation and egg abandonment. Nests are made of Typha and Phragmites leaves.

Femelle avec poussins du Fuligule milouin (Aythya ferina), Lac de Réghaia, Algérie.

Fuligule milouin (Aythya ferina – Common Pochard): une femelle avec ses poussins dans le Lac de Réghaia, Algérie. (photo: Mohamed-Samir Sayaud).

Nid du Fuligule milouin (Aythya ferina), Lac de Réghaia, Algérie.

Nid du Fuligule milouin (Aythya ferina), installé dans les touffes de Typha angustifolia, Lac de Réghaia, Algérie. (photo: Aicha Lardjane-Hamiti).

Marbled Duck (Marmaronetta angustirostris) breeding in Tripoli (Libya)

Etayeb, K. S., Bourass, E. M., Bashimam, W., Wattier, R. & Brochet, A.-L. 2014. Marbled Duck Marmaronetta angustirostris breeding in Tripoli (Libya). In: Feltrup-Azafzaf, C., Dain, M., Brochet, A.L., Defos du Rau, P., Mondain-Monval, J.Y. & Azafzaf, H. (eds.). Bulletin of the network “Mediterranean Waterbirds”, No. 2. AAO, ONCFS, Tour du Valat. pp: 43-44. PDF

Reproduction de la Sarcelle marbrée Marmaronetta angustirostris à Tripoli (Libye).

Excerpt from the text:

“On 6 June 2012, we visited Mallaha (32° 53′ 58 N latitude and 13° 17′ 15 E longitude), as part of our ordinary field work of bird counts in wetlands in and around Tripoli. We recorded the breeding of Little Tern Sterna albifrons (26 nests, 3 live and 3 dead nestlings) and Black-winged stilt Himantopus himantopus (18 nests). During that, we suddenly found two dead ducklings (Pic. 1). A sample was sent to France (University of Burgundy) for genetic analyses to determine the species. The PCR analysis confirmed that the duckling belongs to Marbled Duck Marmaronetta angustirostris. This is the first record of breeding of this species in Libya (Etayeb et al. 2014)…..

On 4 July 2013, members of the Libyan Society for Birds (LSB) reported a breeding of Marbled duck at Tripoli Treatment plant Lagoon (32° 83′ 55 N, 13° 16′ 09 E). They observed an adult swimming with a chick (picture below). This finding confirms the breeding of Marbled Duck in Libya as being probably regular or at least occasional. Moreover, the breeding of this species in some other sites such as Tawergha complex, Al-Hammam wetland in Houne and some dams (e.g. Wadi Ka’am dam and Wadi Al-mjenin dam) is possible”.

Marbled Duck (Marmaronetta angustirostris), Tripoli Treatment Plant Lagoons, Libya, July 2013.

Adult and chick of Marbled Duck (Marmaronetta angustirostris), Tripoli Treatment Plant Lagoons, Libya, 4 July 2013 (Photo: Essam Bourass / Libyan Society for Birds)

Eco-ethology of the wintering Ferruginous Duck (Aythya nyroca) in Garaet Hadj Tahar, Northeast of Algeria

Merzoug, S. E., Amor Abda, W., Belhamra, M., & Houhamdi, M. (2014). Eco-ethology of the wintering ferruginous duck Aythya nyroca (Anatidae) in Garaet Hadj Tahar (Guerbes-Sanhadja, Northeast of Algeria). Zoology and Ecology 24 (4): 297-304.   doi:10.1080/21658005.2014.953800


The ecology (phenology and diurnal eco-ethology) of the ferruginous duck Aythya nyroca was studied during three seasons of its wintering (2010/2011, 2011/2012, and 2012/2013) in Garaet Hadj Tahar (a Ramsar site since 2001 with an area of 120 ha, complex of Guerbes-Sanhadja, Skikda, Northeast of Algeria). The maximum number of ferruginous ducks recorded there in December 2012 was 605 individuals. This figure includes the total number of these birds in two populations living at the site: the first one is a nesting sedentary population consisting of about 20 pairs, and the second one, more numerous, frequents the center of this wetland only in wintering seasons. The study of the rhythm of diurnal activities showed that sleeping is the dominant activity of ferruginous ducks accounting for 42.5% of their time budget. It is followed by activities of swimming (20.6%), feeding (19.3%), cleaning (9.3%), and finally, flying (7.7%). Parading constitutes a very small proportion of the time-activity budget of ducks and was not observed until the end of the wintering season. Also, the current study has revealed the role of this wetland in diurnal recovery of ferruginous ducks.

Ferruginous Duck (Aythya nyroca)

Ferruginous Duck (Aythya nyroca). (Photo: Alessandro Musicorio, flickr CC-by-sa).