Ferruginous Duck

Moretta TabaccataOrder: Anseriformes
Family: Anatidae
Scientific name: (Aythya nyroca*)

Length: 38-42 cm
Wingspan: 63-67 cm

Small sized diving duck. The adult male has brownish-red plumage with a darker back, white eye and white undertail, which is the feature which distinguishes it from the female Ferruginous Duck. The female is similar but is duller with a dark eye.

Wetlands with eutrophic  transparent water,  between 30 and 100 cm  in depth characterised by dense marsh vegetation are its favoured reproductive habitat.
In general, it selects small sized ponds with varied vegetation for nesting, whereas it prefers salt meadows for foraging, at least at local level (Sorino et al, 2005).
In a similar manner, during migration it avoids overwintering in wetlands with deep water and abrupt changes in water level, as well as rapidly running watercourses (Bricchetti 1992).
Its favoured habitats are the same as those that will be restored and/ or created through the LIFE+ project actions, thus contributing to mitigating the threat of habitat loss and, as a consequence, increasing suitable areas available to the species.
In addition to feeding on seeds and other parts of aquatic plants such as Carex spp., Ceratophyllum spp., Bolboschoenus spp and macroalghe such as Chara spp., the Ferruginous Duck will include invertebrates such as Chironomids, Gastropods and Coleoptera and even small fish ( typically between 2-7 cm) and frogs in its diet (Petkov 2000).

They nest on banks of floating vegetation or on land and more rarely in hollow trees, which are always near water, constructing a nest hidden by the vegetation. The presence of small islands is most definitely influential in the choice of  nesting site.
The breeding season generally goes from the end of April to the middle of June, with the deposition of 7-11 eggs which the females brood alone after the deposition of the last egg for 25-27 days, thus causing synchronous hatching.  When born, the chicks are precocial, that is,  they are immediately able to follow the mother into the water and to feed themselves.

State of conservation:
The Ferruginous Duck  is among the species listed in Annex I of the “Birds” Directive 70/409/EEC. It is one of the most threatened ducks  in Europe and is considered globally threatened by Collar et al ( 1994), vulnerable by the  IUCN (Baille e Groombridge, 1996) and nearly “threatened with extinction” by BirdLife International (2000).
In 1997, the Action Plan was commissioned by the EU and prepared by BirdLife International, whilst in 2005 the National Action Plan was prepared by INFS (Istituto Nazionale di Fauna Selvatica). The species is present in the project area as a regular migrator, irregular overwinter visitor and with 3-4 breeding pairs (13% of the population in Puglia and 4% of the Italian population).
Its conservation status on the site according to the Natura 2000 Network: B.

The LIFE+ project for the Ferruginous Duck
In the LIFE+ project  at the Salso Lake Oasis, 90 hectares of Mediterranean salt meadows will be created, thus increasing the availability of suitable sites for stopping over and for feeding. In fact, from observations made the Centro Studi Naturalistici - onlus researchers in the pilot project  “Nature Conservation actions on the habitats of the Bittern, Ferruginous Duck and White-headed Duck  in the Ex Daunia Risi wetlands (Salso Lake)” financed with Puglia Region POR funds 2000-2006, measure 1.6- intervention type 2, it clearly emerged that the greatest number of sightings were concentrated in areas similar to Mediterranean salt meadows (87% of the sightings opposed to 13% in the marsh).

These habitats are favoured due to the presence of more appetising plant species such as Somerset rush (Juncus subulatus) and Alkali bulrush (Scirpus maritimus), plants which guarantee the production of seeds, which are important for feeding other Anatid species, as well as  for the presence of  invertebrates. The project action will bring about an increase in the availability of food with a consequent increase in reproductive success in the spring period thanks to the reduction in mortality of the young. This has been demonstrated by the above-mentioned experimental project, where there were  0-2 young in the years when there was no salt meadows and 10-11 young with salt meadows.
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The LIFE+ Nature and Biodiversity 2007 project  –“Conservation activities for priority avifauna in the Lago Salso Oasis” is structured according to 4 series of actions:

1 Preparatory actions
2 Concrete conservation actions
3 Awareness raising and communication actions
4 Monitoring actions
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