Aves, p�le ornithologique de Natagora

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Aves, 46/1 | 2009 | 9-19

  Status and ecology of White-headed Duck (Oxyura leucocephala) in the hauts plateaux of East Algeria
Houhamdi, M., Maazi, M.-C., Seddik, S., Bouaguel, L., Bougoudjil, S. & Saheb, M.

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Article summary

The wetlands of the high plateaux of Eastern Algeria hold a population of White-headed Ducks (Oxyura leucocephala) whose total number between 2003 and 2008 reached 178 individuals. However, the environmental requirements of this species are met in only four sites: the Garaet Timerganine, Lake Boulhilet, Garaet Ouled Amara, and Garaet Ouled M'barek. Virtually the whole population of the high plateaux is recorded in these sites. The White-headed duck is a wintering duck but a small population, consisting of a peak of 18 pairs, breeds regularly in these four wetlands with a slight preference for the first site.Generally, the breeding population lays between 13 and 16 eggs per nest made mainly with stems of grasses and sedges. The nests are often 6 to 24 cm above the water level and have an outside diameter ranging between 47 and 49 cm. Generally, on average, the eggs weigh 97.10 g, have a length of 67.82 mm and a width of 52.82 mm. The first hatchings are usually observed from 25 June. However, the successful reproduction is estimated to be about 50 to 55 %. In these wetlands, the analysis of the diurnal time budget of wintering populations revealed the role of the sleeping area for this species. The birds devote their day to swimming (38.88 %), followed by sleeping activity (37 %), then preening (11.22 %) and feeding (10.73 %). Flight is a secondary activity (2.94 %), which often occurs after disturbances caused by human beings or by the Marsh harrier (Circus aeruginosus).

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