Madagascar Pochard (Aythya innotata)

Madagascar Pochard

[order] ANSERIFORMES | [family] Anatidae | [latin] Aythya innotata | [authority] Salvadori, 1894 | [UK] Madagascar Pochard | [FR] Fuligule de Madagascar | [DE] Madagaskar-Moorente | [ES] Porron Malgache | [NL] Madagaskarwitoogeend


Genus Species subspecies Region Range
Aythya innotata AF Madagascar


Aythya is a genus of diving ducks. It has twelve described species. Aythya shihuibas was described from the Late Miocene of China. An undescribed prehistoric species is known only from Early Pleistocene fossil remains found at Dursunlu, Turkey; it might however be referrable to a paleosubspecies of an extant species considering its age. The Miocene “Aythya” arvernensis is now placed in Mionetta, while “Aythya” chauvirae seems to contain the remains of 2 species, at least one of which does not seem to be a diving duck.

Physical charateristics

A medium-sized diving duck. Male is dark chestnut-rufous all over except for white eye, white undertail-coverts, white underparts and conspicuous white wing-bar along bases of flight feathers. Bill is dull brown with paler, bluish subterminal band. Female is duller brownish, lacking white eye. From all waterfowl by overall dark plumage and white undertail-coverts and wing-bar extending length of the wing. In addition, from White-backed Duck Thalassornis leuconotus by uniform colouration, dark back and white eye (in male), from Red-knobbed Coot Fulica cristata by mostly dark bill, and from all other ducks by diving habit and running take-off.

wingspan min.: 45 cm wingspan max.: 56 cm
size min.: 45 cm size max.: 56 cm
incubation min.: 26 days incubation max.: 28 days
fledging min.: 0 days fledging max.: 0 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 6  
      eggs max.: 8  


Africa : Madagascar. This species is endemic to Madagascar (although sub-fossil remains of an Aythya duck on Reunion are attributed to A. innotata), where it was found historically in the Lake Alaotra basin in the northern central plateau.


The species was historically only known from shallow freshwater lakes and marshes that combine open water with nearby areas of dense vegetation. It probably prefers marshy areas and shallow water. However, the site of its rediscovery is a volcanic lake with very little emergent vegetation. What vegetation does grow at the lake edge may provide suitable nesting habitat. The requirement for shallow water may prevent it from using other volcanic lakes similar to the site of its rediscovery.


The nest is unknown, but is presumably solitary and sited amongst lake-edge vegetation. Its clutch-size is 6-8 eggs which are incubated for about 27 days.

Feeding habits

It is believed to feed on benthic invertebrates and aquatic plants and seeds by diving frequently in shallow waters


This species was rediscovered in 2006 following the last sighting in 1991. It is currently known from a single location where 25 mature individuals were seen in 2008. While it may also persist at other sites, the population is likely to be tiny and therefore it is classified as Critically Endangered.
It was considered relatively common at Lake Alaotra in the 1930s, but declined dramatically through the 1940s and 1950s. Until the 1990s, the last certain record was at Lake Alaotra in 1960, with one unconfirmed sighting near Antananarivo in 1970 and several other possible records. Then a single male was captured alive in August 1991. Intensive searches (including major publicity campaigns) at Alaotra during 1989-1990 and 1993-1994 failed to discover more birds. However, in 2006 the species was rediscovered when nine adults and four juveniles were observed at a volcanic lake situated 330 km north of the last known site, Lake Alaotra. Reports from local people that the lake was not suitable for rice cultivation round the edge, it contained no fish and that the water was cold suggest that the species may have persisted at this new location because human disturbance has been minimal. Follow-up surveys in 2006 located c.20 mature individuals with up to nine ducklings observed at the same site. Five birds were seen at a second lake c.3-4 km from the site but these may be part of the 20 individuals counted previously. A total of 25 mature individuals were counted in 2008, with six pairs nesting in the 2007/08 season. However, no chicks fledged in 2008, and only 19 adults were recorded in July 2009, including six females.
Madagascar Pochard status Critically Endangered



Distribution map

Madagascar Pochard distribution range map

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