Family Ducks, Geese, Swans (Anatidae)

Least Concern

African Black Duck (Anas sparsa)


French: Canard noirâtre German: Schwarzente Spanish: Ánade negro
Other common names: West African Black Duck, Ethiopian Black Duck (leucostigma), South African Black Duck (sparsa)

Anas sparsa


, 1838,

South Africa


Sometimes placed in a monospecific genus Melananas. Population of Gabon and Cameroon has been assigned a separate subspecies maclatchyi, but doubtfully valid. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • A. s. leucostigma Rüppell, 1845 – isolated populations in W equatorial Africa, and SE Nigeria, Cameroon and Gabon; E Africa from S Sudan and Ethiopia S to Zimbabwe.
  • A. s. sparsa Eyton, 1838 – Namibia, E Botswana and Zimbabwe S through South Africa.
  • Descriptive notes

    48–58 cm; 914–1086 g. Massive, heavy looking, with slightly longer tail but shorter neck than A. undulata, which is also much paler, especially over... read more


    Male gives quiet, wheezy, whistling “weep” usually in regular series, either in contact when... read more


    Generally in secluded, shallow fast-flowing rivers and streams in mountainous and wooded habitat.... read more

    Food and feeding

    Weeds and aquatic vegetation, insect larvae and pupae, and small fish. Forages mostly by dabbling, head dipping and upending in shallow... read more


    Season variable with locality: in SW Cape of South Africa, Jul–Dec, with peak in Sept; in Zambia and Zimbabwe, Jan–Aug, with... read more


    Mainly sedentary throughout range, with only local movements recorded, e.g. to more lowland areas... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). From fairly common to scarce, but in general considered widespread and nowhere numerous. W African population apparently small,... read more

    Recommended citation

    Carboneras, C. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). African Black Duck (Anas sparsa). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 9 April 2020).