Tuesday 21 May
Salvadori’s teal (Salvadorina waigiuensis)
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Salvadori’s teal fact file
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Salvadori’s teal description
Despite its distinctive appearance, few people outside of New Guinea have ever seen Salvadori’s teal, and the nest of this duck was not found by scientists until 1959 (3). It has an elongated body and tail, with dark brown barred plumage resembling the stripes of a tiger. This contrasts with its bright yellow bill, orange legs and chocolate-coloured head (4). Males and females differ only in eye colour; males have red irises while females have brown (5). Salvadori’s teal are fairly territorial, and the knobs on the ‘wrists’ of their wings may be an adaptation with which to fight off other ducks (6).Top
Salvadori’s teal biology
The Salvadori’s teal feeds on aquatic invertebrates, tadpoles and small fish by diving, dabbling and tipping up; a way of feeding whereby the bird remains floating on the surface of the water and just turns upside down to search for food (2) (4).
It has a long breeding season, which seems to vary by elevation, although the majority of nests have been observed from June to September, during which two to four eggs are laid in a nest hidden among bankside vegetation, or in tufts of grass on boulders located in the river. The nests are lined with a thick layer of down, and the eggs are incubated for over 28 days, probably by the female (9) (10) (11).
Salvadori’s teal appear to be sedentary ducks that do not travel far in their lifetime (2). As they are territorial birds they probably occur at low densities throughout their range, which may be another reason why they are so rarely sighted.Top
Salvadori’s teal range
Salvadori’s teal is found only in the mountains of New Guinea and is the sole endemic duck species of the island (7). At present it has only been recorded from a few locations, but this may be due to the inaccessibility of the remote area in which it lives (1).Top
Salvadori’s teal habitat
This duck prefers to inhabit fast-flowing mountain streams, and small alpine lakes, between 500 metres and 4000 metres in altitude, although it is sometimes found in more sluggish streams as well (2) (8).Top
Salvadori’s teal status
Classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List 2007 (1).Top
Salvadori’s teal threats
Salvadori’s teal are thought to be declining in numbers, largely due to habitat degradation. Expanding human populations, deforestation, mining and road building all result in the loss of suitable habitat for this duck (1). Over-hunting is also likely to have contributed to declines. Animals that are confined to freshwater, such as Salvadori’s teal, are thought to be particularly susceptible to over-hunting in New Guinea, as this is where hunters spend a lot of their time (12). Another potential threat is the introduction of exotic fish species into the montane rivers of New Guinea, as they may compete with Salvadori’s teal for food (8). At present, these threats only affect a small proportion of Salvadori’s teal, but unfortunately the impact and extent of these threats is expected to increase (4).Top
Salvadori’s teal conservation
Salvadori’s teal is protected by law in Papua New Guinea (1), but conservation action is still required to halt any further decline of this species, particularly as its restricted range and very specific habitat makes it very vulnerable to the threats mentioned above (2). Surveys within the region would be beneficial in learning more about this little-known duck, and would also enable the impact of hunting and habitat degradation on this species to be assessed (1).Top
Find out more
For further information on the Salvadori’s teal see:
- BirdLife International. (2001) Threatened Birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book. BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK.
Authenticated (17/05/2007) by Nancy Staus, Conservation Biology Institute.
- A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
- Animals with no backbone.
- Of mountains.
- An animal, a pair of animals or a colony that occupies and defends an area.
- IUCN Red List (May, 2008)
- del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J. (1992) Handbook of the Birds of the World. Vol. 1: Ostrich to Ducks. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
- Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (April, 2007)
- Birdlife International (April, 2007)
- Beehler, B.M., Pratt, T.K. and Zimmerman, D.A. (1986) Birds of New Guinea. Princeton University Press, New Jersey.
- Kear, J. (2005) Ducks, Geese, and Swans. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
- Diamond, J.M. (1972) Avifauna of the Eastern Highlands of New Guinea. Publications of the Nuttall Ornitological Club, 12: 1 - 438.
- Kear, J. (1975) Salvadori’s duck of New Guinea. Wildfowl, 26: 104 - 111.
- Staus, N. (2007) Pers. comm.
- Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Centre (April, 2007)
- Symes, C.T. and Marsden, S.F. (2005) Notes on breeding of Salvadori’s Teal Anas waiguiensis and other birds in Crater Mountain Wildlife Management Area, Papua New Guinea. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists’ Club, 125: 11 - 27.
- Mack, A.L. and West, P. (2005) Ten Thousand Tonnes of Small Animals: Wildlife Consumption in Papua New Guinea, a Vital Resource in Need of Management. Resource Management in Asia-Pacific Program, Canberra.
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