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

Le statut de l’Érismature à tête blanche (Oxyura leucocephala) dans les zones humides du nord-est algérien

Halassi, I., Elafri, A., Belhamra, M. & Houhamdi, M. (2016). Répartition et abondance de l’Érismature à tête blanche Oxyura leucocephala dans les zones humides du nord-est algérien. Alauda 84: 25–34.
PDF in ResearchGate


Status of the White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala in Northeast Algeria. The globally threatened White-headed Duck is one the most rare duck species in the Western Palearctic. Its distribution in Algeria is mainly restricted to the northeastern part of the country and the Hauts-Plateaux. In 2013 and 2014, 694 individuals were counted. The studied sites harboured distinct numbers in winter and in summer of the two years. The p-values (Kruskal Wallis test) were lower than 0.05. The Lake Tonga showed the highest numbers in winter and the Boussedra wetland in summer. The results indicated a stable occurrence in the studied areas without any difference between the two years. The PCA analysis showed a significant correlation between the distribution of this species and three following main factors: vegetation, surface area and water depth at the Boussedra wetland, Lake Tonga and Garaet Hadj-Taher. The lower occurrence in other parts of the studied areas, particularly on the Hauts-Plateaux, is mainly the consequence of drying out process and habitat degradation.

Érismature à tête blanche (Oxyura leucocephala), Marais de la Macta, Mostaganem, Algérie (‎Ali Mehadji‎)

Érismature à tête blanche (Oxyura leucocephala), Marais de la Macta, Mostaganem, Algérie (‎photo: Ali Mehadji‎)

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).

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).

Place des insectes dans les régimes alimentaires de trois Ardéidés en Tunisie septentrionale

Nefla, A., Tlili, W., Ouni, R. & Nouira, S. 2014. Place des insectes dans les régimes alimentaires de trois Ardéidés en Tunisie septentrionale. Alauda 82 (3): 221-232.  PDF


Insects in the diet of three Ardeidae species in Tunisia.

Analysis of 594 pellets of three heron species (Little Egret Egretta garzetta, Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis and Squacco Heron Ardeola ralloides) collected at colonies in northern Tunisia (Ichkeul National Park, Lebna Dam and Chikli Island). Cattle Egrets consumed preferably insects (most important group in number and biomass), vertebrates did not exceed 1 % and 2 % (in number) and 4 % and 9 % (in biomass) respectively at Ichkeul and Lebna. The diet consisted in Coleoptera, Orthoptera (Caelifera, Gryllidae, Gryllotalapidae) and Hymenoptera (ants). Squacco heron nestlings were fed with annelids, crustaceans and mainly insects (62 % in number and 77 % in biomass) which included larvas of Odonata, Orthoptera (grasshoppers and crickets), Dermaptera (Forficula), Coleoptera and Hymenoptera. The diet of Little Egret consisted mainly in insects (76 % at Ichkeul, 98 % at Chikli). However the percentages of fish did not exceed 10 % and 2 % at both sites respectively.

Related articles:

Mohammedi, A. & Doumandji, S. 2013. Le statut des proies du Héron garde-bœufs (Bubulcus ibis L.) dans la région de Chlef (Algérie). Revue d’écologie 68: 283-289.

Nefla, A., Tlili, W., Ouni, R., & Nouira, S. 2014. Breeding Biology of Squacco Herons (Ardeola ralloides) in Northern Tunisia. Wilson Journal of Ornithology 126 (2): 393–401.

Ouni, R., Nefla, A., El Hili, A., & Nouira, S. 2011. Les populations d’Ardéidés nicheurs en Tunisie. Alauda 79 (2): 157–166.  (PDF)

Heronry of Lebna Dam in Cap Bon, Tunisia

Heronry of Lebna Dam in Cap Bon, Tunisia

Nest-site selection, breeding success and brood parasitism in the common moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) in Algeria

Meniaia, Z., Samraoui, F., Alfarhan, A. H., & Samraoui, B. (2014). Nest-site selection, breeding success and brood parasitism in the common moorhen Gallinula chloropus in Algeria. Zoology and Ecology 24: 305–313. doi:10.1080/21658005.2014.959281
PDF in ResearchGate.net

Abstract :

Between 2010 and 2012, we studied the breeding ecology of the common moorhen Gallinula chloropus at Lake Tonga, north-east Algeria. Nests were low lying (mean ± SD = 13.64 ± 5.07 cm) and located in tall, dense stands of Scirpus lacustris (72%). The egg-laying period was relatively short, between mid-April and the end of June, peaking in the first half of May. The mean overall clutch size ± SD was 7.03 ± 2.52 (N = 58 clutches) with a slight seasonal downward trend. Rates of successful clutches increased with egg-laying date and water depth mainly due to the seasonal decrease in nest predation and nest flooding. Nest predation, in contrast to nest flooding, was also negatively associated with water depth. The study documented relatively frequent cases of conspecific brood parasitism as well as rarely reported events of interspecific brood parasitism involving the common moorhen both as a host and as a parasite of other avian species.


Samraoui, F., Alfarhan, A. H., & Samraoui, B. (2013). Status and breeding ecology of the Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus in Algeria. Ostrich 84 (2): 137-144.

Nest of Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) with an egg and a chick

Nest of Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) with an egg and a chick (Z. Meniaia et al. 2014).

Breeding ecology of the Purple Swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio) in the wetland complex of Guerbes-Sanhadja, north-east Algeria

Bara, M., Merzoug, S. E., Rassim, K., Bouslama, Z. & Houhamdi, M. 2014. Aspects of the breeding ecology of the Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio in the wetland complex of Guerbes-Sanhadja, north-east Algeria. Ostrich 85(2): 185-191.  doi: 10.2989/00306525.2014.971901


The Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio is a common rail that previously was little investigated in North Africa. From 2011 to 2013, its breeding ecology was studied at two natural wetlands in north-east Algeria, namely Garaet Hadj Tahar and Garaet Messaoussa. Numbers of Purple Swamphens at both localities peaked in late April and early May. Egg-laying started in early March, whereas hatching started in late March. Peak egg-laying took place in late March and early April, and peak hatching from mid-April to early May. There were significant differences in the size and weight of eggs between years and localities. The mean clutch size was 2.75 ± 0.70 eggs and it was not significantly different between localities and years. Mean hatching success was 51% and it was positively correlated to nest depth only at Garaet Hadj Tahar. Most nests were built in dense tufts of Typha angustifolia and Phragmites australis. The main nesting materials were Phragmites australis and Scirpus maritimus.

Purple Swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio)

Purple Swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio), Algeria (Page Facebook: Slim Photo Amateur)

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).