White-eyed Dive (Aythya nyroca) - a small, slightly larger teal, duck weighing from 0.4 to 0.65 kg. In the appearance of the male, the most remarkable is a beautiful chestnut-brown color. And this bird got its name for the color of its eyes - the iris of the eyes of the drakes is yellowish-white (from a distance it seems white).
The weight of these ducks reaches 700 g, but on average is 500 g. The body length is from 38 to 42 cm. The wingspan of a white-eyed dive can be up to 70 cm. The birds got their name for the specific yellowish-white color of their eyes, which from afar appears completely white . Interestingly, only males differ in this eye color. The female iris is brown. The outfit of an adult drake is evenly colored in brown. However, when the mating season begins, it, like almost all drakes, transforms: the belly and chin turn white, the sides acquire a brownish-red hue, and a brown collar appears at the base of the neck. On the wings there are white mirrors that are clearly visible in flight.
The female of this species is slightly different from the male, the shade of its plumage is just a little more faded. The male’s voice is a quiet, hoarse “chuk-chuk” sound, but the female’s voice resembles a hoarse croak. In some regions of Russia, these ducks are called white eyes or nigella.
Lifestyle and Biology
As befits all dives, these ducks dive and swim perfectly, they just can’t fly directly from the water. They need a sufficiently long run-up before they can take off.
White-eyed dive in the pond
The white-eyed dive eats the leaves and roots of aquatic plants: vallisneria, pond, water-bird, duckweed, etc. To a lesser extent, this duck consumes animal feed: mosquito larvae, dragonflies, caddis flies, as well as water bugs and mollusks.
Being a very careful bird, it tries to feed black at night and rarely goes ashore. White-eyed dives do not form large flocks. They molt twice a year.
The nest of this duck is located in dense thickets of coastal plants or under the hanging branches of a bush, on weakly overgrown rafts, sedge hummocks, reed creases, occasionally on floating reed islands, less often on a hard bank. Often, muskrat huts are used as the basis for a bird’s nest. The nest of a white-eyed dive is skillfully disguised and is a loose bowl of plant materials, and the tray is lined with abundant black and brown fluff.
Pair of white-eyed dives
In clutch there are usually 6 - 10 eggs. The color of the eggs in different nests varies from creamy white to reddish-cream, brownish and greenish.
The female incubates the clutch for 24-28 days. Often the male is nearby all this time, but does not take part in incubation of masonry, however, later, along with the female, he participates in the upbringing of chicks. Chicks feed on their own and from the first hours of life they can dive well.
Unlike other ducks, who often get their livelihood in shallow water or on the shore, blacks dive underwater to feed themselves. Moreover, many of them descend to a depth of 3 m, being under water for an average of 20 s. They very rarely go ashore, spending most of their lives on the surface of the water. Watching the dives is very curious. A small duck swims in the middle of a reservoir, and after a second it has already disappeared into the water depths to appear with prey in a place completely unexpected for the observer.
In the Red Book of Russia
The status of the species in the Red Book of Russia is the second, respectively, it is a species whose number and range are rapidly declining. Perhaps the reduction in the number of this species was due to the fact that the white-eyed dives are careless and hunters destroyed them. In addition, the drying out of many nesting ponds and marshes as a result of land drainage and water abstraction was affected by irrigation.
Distribution and conservation status
Inhabits white-eyed dive in central and southern Europe, in the steppes and semi-deserts of western and central Asia, but its range has now become not continuous, but mosaic (that is, consisting of separate, isolated areas. Nowadays, a white-eyed duck is a rare bird that has disappeared from many places. classified as globally threatened and included in the Red Books - international, Russia and Kazakhstan.
This dive feeds on aquatic plants, as well as mollusks, aquatic insects and small fish. Often he feeds at night, but rarely comes ashore.
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