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A photo of a Cotton Pygmy Goose (Nettapus coromandelianus), male
Cotton Pygmy Goose, Male

Cotton Pygmy Goose

Nettapus coromandelianus

The Cotton Pygmy Goose, also known as the Cotton Teal (Nettapus coromandelianus), is a diminutive perching duck, one of the smallest waterfowl species in the world. Males are distinguished by their dark brown forehead and crown, with a blackish-green collar at the base of the neck, while females have a duller cap and a brown line through the eye.

Identification Tips

Adult males exhibit a striking white wing band in flight, contrasting with their dark wings. Females, on the other hand, have a more subdued white trailing edge on their secondaries. Both sexes have a red iris, with males sporting greenish legs during the breeding season, and a goose-like bill that is short and deep at the base.

Habitat

These birds favor lakes and ponds with emergent vegetation, which provide ample foraging opportunities. They are also known to roost in trees near water bodies.

Distribution

The Cotton Pygmy Goose has a broad range across Asia, extending to Australia. They are known to disperse widely, particularly in response to rainfall and water availability.

Behaviour

Typically seen in pairs or groups of pairs, these strong fliers are agile and swift, often flying low over water. They feed mainly at the water's surface, avoiding diving or up-ending.

Breeding

Breeding season is aligned with the rains, with courtship displays largely undocumented. Nests are primarily built in natural tree hollows, with males assisting in locating suitable sites. Females are thought to be solely responsible for incubation.

Similar Species

The marked sexual dimorphism in non-breeding plumage can lead to confusion with other species, but the distinctive white wing band in males and the white trailing edge in females are key identification features.

Diet and Feeding

Their diet consists of small fishes, molluscs, crustaceans, insect larvae, and plant matter. They feed by skimming the surface, rather than diving.

Conservation status

The Cotton Pygmy Goose is currently listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List, indicating a stable population.

Predators and parasites

Predators include the Rock Python, while parasites such as Plasmodium circumflexum and various cestodes have been recorded in these birds.

In culture

Historically hunted and sold in markets, the Cotton Pygmy Goose has also been noted for its tameness and ability to adapt to human presence, sometimes nesting within buildings. Their calls have been described as low quacky sounds, contributing to various local names and anecdotes.

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