Conservation Education and Science
Animal Facts & Photos  
Yellow-billed Duck
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Anas undulata
ORDER: Anseriformes
FAMILY: Anatidae
RANGE: from Ethiopia and Sudan south to South Africa
HABITAT: fresh water lakes swamps and marshes, brackish coastal lagoons and estuaries
DIET: seeds, roots, plants, insects, mollusks and crustaceans

The yellow-billed duck, a dabbling duck about the size of a mallard, is easily distinguished from all others in Africa by its dark grayish plumage and bright yellow bill. The female is generally smaller and paler than the male. The juvenile is similar to the adult, but has coarser streaking on its head and more heavily-spotted underparts. The male utters various low whistles and the female has a mallard-like descending series of hoarse quacks. The subspecies rueppelli in the northern part of the duck’s range, is darker and browner with a deeper yellow bill.

Yellow-billed ducks are highly social birds and form large concentrations during the dry season. The flocks break up with the onset of rains as the birds disperse to breeding areas. Pairs of birds construct ground nests of grass, rushes and reed stems, lined with down. The nests are usually built close to water and hidden by vegetation. The female lays four-to-12 eggs, which she incubates for 26-to-29 days. The chicks fledge in 68 days.

Yellow-billed ducks are mostly sedentary and do not migrate. They are the most common duck in many parts of their range and are the only ducks in Africa with yellow bills.