Family Ducks, Geese, Swans (Anatidae)

Least Concern

Black-headed Duck (Heteronetta atricapilla)


French: Hétéronette à tête noire German: Kuckucksente Spanish: Pato rinconero

Anas atricapilla


, 1841,

Buenos Aires, Argentina


Has sometimes been regarded as a link between dabbling ducks and stifftails. Monotypic.


C Chile E to Paraguay, SE Brazil and Uruguay, S in Argentina to Buenos Aires and La Pampa Provinces.

Descriptive notes

35–43 cm; male 434–680 g, female 470–720 g. Dabbling duck-like jizz, but identifiable by virtue of elongated body, short tail, small head on short thick... read more


Generally rather silent; in courtship, males give three faint croaks followed by low piping notes,... read more


Swamps, lakes, pools and marshes of permanent fresh waters with abundant emergent vegetation in... read more

Food and feeding

Diet formed mainly by seeds and vegetative parts of aquatic plants (e.g. bulrushes); also aquatic invertebrates (especially molluscs),... read more


In S Brazil, eggs and ducklings found Oct–Dec; in Argentina, adults paired Sept–Dec and eggs recorded until Jan; promiscuity... read more


Partially migratory and perhaps somewhat nomadic in response to droughts; southernmost breeding... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Apparently still fairly common but very sensitive to loss of permanent marshes through drainage or pollution; population estimated at... read more

Recommended citation

Carboneras, C. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Black-headed Duck (Heteronetta atricapilla). 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 14 December 2019).