A Beautiful Bird “Pink-Headed Duck”

The pink-headed duck (Rhodonessa caryophyllacea) was often considered rare, distributed locally in the wetlands of Bangladesh, India, and Myanmar, and rarely occurring in Nepal, with most records from northeast India and neighboring Bangladesh. Since 1949 this species has not been seen conclusively in the wild; it has always been considered rare and is likely to have declined extreme through a combination of hunting and habitat loss. This is distinctive when paired with a dark body in the pink head coloration. A prominent wing patch and long slender neck are characteristics that are shared with the common spot-billed Indian duck. Also, the eggs were kept as unusual in being almost spherical. There is maybe hope that a few people can live in Myanmar’s inaccessible swampland areas. The male pink-headed duck is unmistakable when a good view is had. Both sexes are 41–43 cm and long-billed with long necks and peaked heads.

This duck is shy and elusive, inhabiting secluded and overgrown still-water ponds, marshes, and swamps in lowland forests and high grasslands, particularly areas subject to seasonal flooding, and lagoons adjacent to large rivers in winter. Outside the breeding season, it was usually encountered in small groups and occasionally flocks of 30-40. The male has a pink bill, head, and neck while the female has a pale pinkish head and neck with a paler bill. The body’s black spreads out like a thin line on the neck end. Wings have white edge leading. For both England and India, several specimens of the Pink-headed Duck were kept in captivity; but there was no breeding success. This animal is (or was) lowland. Possibly secluded and overgrown still-water ponds, marshes, and swamps favored. The nest is made between the grasses. In an embrace the eggs, six or seven, are very spherical and creamy white. The eggs measure 1.71 to 1.82 inches long and 1.61 to 1.7 inches wide. The female ducks have a more subdued and browner body, light grayish-pink head and upper neck with brownish wash on crown and hindneck and duller bill. Juvenile has a brown body more dull than female, with fine, whitish feather fringes. Voice Males utter soft whistle, females a quack of coffee.