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Kidadl Team

AUGUST 06, 2021

Comb Duck: 17 Facts You Won't Believe! Facts

Here are comb duck facts about this bird that is mainly found in America and Africa.

A variety of living beings exist in the world and in habitats, from microscopic to macroscopic levels. If one tries to observe a little more of the different family genus species, they will realize that some of these are so unusual that it is unbelievable that they actually exist. One such unusual duck also happens to be one of the largest species of birds of the world are native to the South American Continent are comb ducks, also known as the African comb duck. One can spot them unmistakably. The comb duck (Sarkidiornis melanotos) was first described by two biologists, Hermann Friedrich Albert von Ihering and Rodolpho Theodor Wilhelm Gaspar von Ihering in 1907. These ducks are found near the Paraguay river, northeastern Argentina, and southeastern Brazil and are also found as vagrants in Trinidad. Both male and female adult ducks have white heads freckled with dark black spots.

But male comb ducks have a distinguishing feature of the dark black knob on their bill for which they are known as knob billed duck and adults have a white appearance. Scientifically, they are known as Sarkidiornis Sylvicola. After reading about comb ducks, you may also look at paradise shelduck and Rajdah shelduck for more information on these beings.

Comb Duck Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a comb duck?

A comb duck (Sarkidiornis melanotos) is a bird and more specifically it is a Southern American duck with a very unusual appearance. They belong to the genus Sarkidiornis and are scientifically known as Sarkidiornis sylvicola. Male ducks are physically different in appearance to female ducks and were first studied by two biologists namely H. von Ihering. & R. von Ihering in 1907.

What class of animal does a comb duck belong to?

A comb duck is a bird belonging to class aves of the phylum Chordata of kingdom Animalia. They further belong to the family Anatidae, the family of ducks, swans, and geese, under the order Anseriformes, the order consisting of around 180 species.

How many comb ducks are there in the world?

These ducks are exclusive to certain regions in South America, Madagascar, Sub-Saharan Africa, and tropical regions of southeast Asia. Their population in these places is stable for now and around 10,000 mature individuals are reportedly breeding in these regions.

Where does a comb duck live?

A comb duck (Sarkidiornis melanotos) is found in their habitat range featuring abundant water and greenery such as open woodlands, tropical savannah, fields, and ponds in South America.  Here they are found in the Paraguay river region, in Southeastern Brazil, northeastern Argentina, and they are also found in Trinidad. Their populations can be found in sub-Saharan Africa, Madagascar, India, Southern China, Vietnam, and Thailand as well. Unmated males perch in trees and wait for opportunities to mate during the breeding season.

What is a comb duck's habitat?

A comb duck (Sarkidiornis melanotos) is a wild duck whose habitat is found nesting in tree holes and in between tall grasses. Besides, their habitat is found in farms, in open woodland regions, marshes, near lakes and floodplains, and river deltas foraging.

Who do comb ducks live with?

In the wet season, comb ducks are found in flocks and nest in tree holes. They separate for mating and a male can have one or more female ducks with him for mating. A mother duck is also seen with her duckling moving around in ponds.  

How long does a comb duck live?

A comb duck (Sarkidiornis melanotos) has extreme longevity in comparison to other birds. But extreme hunting and deforestation are a reason for their decreasing survival rate. On average an African comb duck can live in the range of 20-30 years. These ducks of Africa can last even longer if the ideal conditions are provided.

How do they reproduce?

Before mating or breeding, these ducks nest in the tree holes and near tall grasses. Male comb ducks perch in trees and wait for a chance to mate with a female. They show polygamy and at a time, a male can mate with one or more (up to five) female ducks in total. After breeding, the female lays around 7 - 15 eggs that are yellow-white in appearance.

What is their conservation status?

Their population is stable for now and they fall under the Least Concern category of the IUCN Red List. But a threat is imposed on their existence and survival due to increasing industrial practices leading to deforestation.

Comb Duck Fun Facts

What do comb ducks look like?

Both male and female comb ducks have certain distinguishing features with their head freckled with dark spots and spots are grey in females. These ducks are one of the largest species of ducks and can grow up to 30 in (76.2 cm) in length. The adult duck has a white head that is heavily freckled with black spots. They have a pure white neck and underparts. Besides, their upper parts are blue-black, and glossy with greenish iridescent. Male ducks are visually larger in size than female ducks and have a large black-colored knob on their bill. Young comb ducks have a very similar appearance to fulvous whistling ducks and owing to their lighter plumage color they are easily distinguished from the adult ducks.

A male comb duck has a black lump on its bill.

How cute are they?

Female comb ducks are fine but male ducks are not that cute. Especially due to the knob on their bill. A lot of people do not find them cute but rather intimidating, especially due to their appearance and markings. But some people have rather opposite opinions; they find them unique and adorable.

How do they communicate?

Besides quacking, they have their own ways of communicating. A hail call and a decrescendo call are used to communicate with other members of the same species. They have a vast vocabulary and show unique vocalization. They can whistle, coo, grunt, and produce soft to loud noises to express their emotions.

How big is a comb duck?

The comb duck (Sarkidiornis melanotos) is a large-sized ave, with males usually being bigger in size than female comb ducks. On average, their length range is 22-30 in (56-76 cm) and their wingspan can grow in the range of 46-57 in (116-145 cm) in length.

How fast can a comb duck swim?

These birds are comparatively fast swimmers. An adult duck can swim with a speed range of up to 6 mph (9.6 kph). A really adorable sight is to see baby ducks swimming behind their mother duck.

How much does a comb duck weigh?

Even though the knob-billed duck (Sarkidiornis melanotos) grows large in size, it does not weigh much as compared to their size. This is because their plumage is light and makes up the exoskeleton and their body has a very dynamic shape that enables them easy flight. On average an adult comb duck can weigh between 2.3-6.4 lb (1.03-2.9 kg) in weight.

What are the male and female names of the species?

Males of this species do have separate names; they are sometimes referred to as drakes and are also commonly referred to as mallards. But the females do not have any separate names and are referred to as just female ducks.

What would you call a baby comb duck?

A baby comb duck is referred to as ducklings. Ducklings stay with their mother ducks till they are grown enough to fend on their own. A juvenile Comb duck is very similar in appearance to a fulvous whistling duck.

What do they eat?

A knob-billed duck (Sarkidiornis melanotos) feeds on an omnivorous diet. It feeds on a variety of leaves, seeds of the grasses, aquatic plants, small fish, vegetable matter, and also on insect larvae and locusts.

Are they dangerous?

They are not exactly dangerous but males may get aggressive while defending their females and the young ones. But they are not a threat to somebody's life.

Would they make a good pet?

These ducks are not very high maintenance and are kept in fields by many people. But it is not a common practice to take them as pets since they are meant for the wild and not to be kept in a domesticated environment.

Did you know...

Comb ducks are highly migratory birds. They travel up to a distance of 2,200 miles (3541 km) to forage.

How are male comb ducks different from female comb ducks?

Male comb ducks have a knob on their bills while the females don't. Also, they are bigger in size than females.

How many eggs do comb ducks lay?

A knob-billed duck, on average, lays around 7-15 yellowish-white eggs. But records show that they can lay up to 50 eggs.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these scarlet macaw facts and wren facts pages.  

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable comb duck coloring pages.

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