Comb duck

(Sarkidiornis melanotos)




Facts about this animal

The comb duck is a fairly large perching duck with a body-weight of 1.3 to 2.6 kg in males and 0.9 to 2.4 kg in females.

Comb ducks perch in trees, clinging with their strong claws to vertical tree trunks like monstrous woodpeckers! They nest in tree cavities about 6-9 meters above the ground or within holes in the walls of buildings. This species, as with other tree ducks, practices dump nesting where several females lay their eggs in one nest. Such nests may hold more than 50 eggs! Comb ducks are usually silent except when annoyed or displaying. At that time, males hiss, wheeze, or croak and whistle while females quack, grunt, and whine.

Nest sites are variable, but most frequently on the ground in grass or reed beds. 8 to 15 white or greenish-white eggs are laid, which are incubated for 30 days.

The plumage is metallic-violet, purple, bronze and green back with yellow or cinnamon flanks. The head is creamy-white and the neck is orange-yellow in colour. Some ducks have a variable black head. Both sexes possess a small crest of slightly curly feathers. The less glossy females lack a comb and yellowish head coloration, and their head is normally more profusely spotted than the male.

The diet includes grass seeds and small snails.

Did you know?
that the comb duck is named for the prominent, leaf-shaped comb atop the male's bill? The comb is fleshy and reduced in size for much of the year, but enlarges prior to breeding season.


Class AVES
Suborder ANSERES
Name (Scientific) Sarkidiornis melanotos
Name (English) Comb duck
Name (French) Sarcidiorne à crête
Name (German) Höckerglanzgans
Name (Spanish) Pato crestudo
Local names Afrikaans: Knobbeleend
seSotho: Legôu
CITES Status Appendix II
CMS Status Appendix II (as Anatidae spp.) Included in AEWA



Photo Copyright by
BS Thurner Hof



Range Subsaharan Africa: Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo,Congo Dem., Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe South-East Asia: Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Viet Nam Central and South America: Argentina, Aruba, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Mexico, Netherlands Antilles, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, Venezuela Vagrants may be encountered elsewhere.
Habitat Wetlands including bogs, marshes, swamps, fens, peatlands, and lakes.
Wild population The global population is estimated to be 190,000-730,000 individuals by Wetlands International (2002).
Zoo population 122 reported to ISIS (2006), mostly s. m. ,elanotos

In the Zoo

Comb duck


How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Note 18 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by
BS Thurner Hof

Why do zoos keep this animal

The comb duck is not an endangered species but is of educational interest because of its specific anatomical feature, the comb, and their behavioural patterns.