Picture: courtesy of my brother Stephen Rhee
Conservation status: ENDANGERED
Common name: white-winged duck/white-winged wood duck
Scientific name: Asarcornis scutulata
Diet: Seeds, aquatic plants, grain, rice, snails, small fish, and insects (only feeds at night)
Length: 66 – 81 cm
Weight: 2.94 – 3.9 kg (Adult: Male), 1.95 – 3.05 kg (Adult: Female)
The white-winged duck is one of the largest species of duck that can be found in the wild (only the steamer duck is known to be bigger). They inhabit the dense tropical evergreen forests, rivers, and swamps of India, Bangladesh, and Southeast Asia. It has become an endangered specie with an estimated total population of 800, of which 200 in Laos, Thailand, Vietnam Cambodia, and 150 on Sumatra.
One interesting feature that I noticed was the contrast between the duck’s dark body and it whitish head and neck. It made me curious about whether the contrast in the duck’s plumage serves a particular purpose. Since it doesn’t seem like the ducks use their feathers for camouflage, the contrast might be due to the fact that females prefer males with whiteheads. It’s just a guess, but trying to answer these questions feel exciting to me.
- BirdLife International (2013). “Asarcornis scutulata”. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 21 September 2014.