White-Headed Duck: 21 Facts You Won't Believe!

Learn interesting white-headed duck facts here

Ducks are intelligent and emotional birds! The white-headed duck with its colorful features is often a delightful sight to viewers around lakes. Unlike its other species, this magnificent duck stands out due to its blue bill and a black crown over its head. These ducks have short necks and relatively smaller wings as compared to their body. True to their name, these ducks prefer diving over flying!

These endangered ducks are migratory birds meaning that they are not territorial in nature. You can easily classify the sex of the duck by looking at its features!

To know more about some other types of birds be sure to check out Great green macaw facts or  Harlequin duck facts.

White-Headed Duck

Fact File

What do they prey on?

Marine worms, aquatic crustaceans, aquatic plants

What do they eat?


Average litter size?


How much do they weigh?

1.1-1.9 lb(500-900 g)

How long are they?

16-18 in (43-48 cm)

How tall are they?


What do they look like?

Chestnut brown body, white head, blue bill, and a dark cap

Skin Type


What are their main threats?

Humans, gulls, brown rats

What is their conservation status?


Where you'll find them

Freshwater lakes, ponds


Northeastern Africa, North Africa, Central Asia, and Spain





Scientific Name

Oxyura leucocephala





White-Headed Duck Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a white-headed duck?

The white-headed duck is an aquatic bird belonging to the class Aves.

What class of animal does a white-headed duck belong to?

This duck belongs to the Anatidae family of the class Aves, also known as Oxyura Leucocephala in scientific terms. Oxyura refers to pointed tail and Leucocephala refers to white-headed.

How many white-headed ducks are there in the world?

There are over 160 species of ducks in the world but the exact number of white-headed ducks is not known. Unfortunately, the white-headed duck (Oxyura leucocephala) is a threatened species due to hunting, habitat loss, and problems inbreeding (hybridization) and hence are labeled as Endangered.

Where does a white-headed duck live?

White-headed ducks originate from Palaearctic species. The white-headed duck distribution occurs mainly in southwestern Europe, northeastern Africa, North Africa, central Asia, China, Spain, western and central Asia.

What is a white-headed duck's habitat?

The white-headed duck habitat is composed mainly of wetlands with freshwater and alkaline eutrophic lakes with lots of vegetation as they rely on that for their primary source of food. The beautiful white-headed duck can be seen in lakes that are connected to larger wetland complexes.

Who do white-headed ducks live with?

White-headed ducks are seen to live among other ducks like the Ruddy duck.

How long does a white-headed duck live?

The white-headed duck life span can range anywhere between five to ten years.

How do they reproduce?

These bluebill ducks are monogamous and have one partner for life. In order to attract the female duck, the male makes a low rattling noise! This species has a breeding period during the summer from April to July. These birds prefer mating during these times because the water level is stable, which allows them to lay eggs in their nests. Their breeding habitat often consists of small shallow lakes. They build their nests over the water level around vegetation so the females can securely lay their eggs. Females mature around the age of one and they breed with adult male ducks once a year. They lay around four to nine eggs and let them incubate for 22-24 days. This species lay the largest egg as compared to any other duck species! Sadly, they are now endangered due to the introduction of Ruddy ducks into breeding.

What is their conservation status?

The population of white-headed ducks has been threatened. The white-headed duck (Oxyura leucocephala) is listed as Endangered on the Birdlife International IUCN Redlist since 2000. Various measures have been taken since then to restore this endangered population. If the correct measures aren't taken, these beautiful creatures may go extinct in the near future.

White-Headed Duck Fun Facts

What do white-headed ducks look like?

These beautiful ducks have a white head with a brown or black crown on the top of their head. The female duck has a dark grey bill and greyish-brown body, they also have stripes on their cheeks! However, the male duck has a white face and reddish-brown plumage and a large blue bill.

Do read to know more about white-headed duck facts.

How cute are they?

This species of ducks are extremely adorable with their white head and a little black cap that compliments their blue bill! The white-headed duck (Oxyura leucocephala) has a small body. Unlike  adult males, females don't have a white face, instead, they have stripes on their cheeks which only adds to their endearing appearance!

How do they communicate?

This endangered species of duck is peaceful and usually, gives out mating calls only to attract the female ducks by making low rattling noises. As they are social in nature, these birds often migrate and come together at a particular site with other ducks during winter and around 10,000 of them gather up!

How big is a white-headed duck?

In terms of size, the white-headed duck (Oxyura leucocephala) happens to be a smaller species as compared to other geese and ducks. They have short black webbed feet.  

How fast can a white-headed duck fly?

This species is more into diving and therefore prefers to swim underwater. They resist flying and are not seen on land as much. The wingspan of this bird can range from 24-27 in(62-70 cm).

How much does a white-headed duck weigh?

The average weight of a white-headed duck range lies between 1.1-1.9 lb(500-900 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

Adult male ducks are called drakes whereas female ducks are known as hens. The same goes for this species of white-headed duck as well. As far as their scientific name is concerned, they share the same name which is Oxyura leucocephala.

What would you call a baby white-headed duck?

The offspring of a duck is called a duckling, so far there is no specific term coined for a baby white-headed duck.

What do they eat?

The white-headed duck size depends on their diet. These birds are omnivores and feed primarily on freshwater vegetation such as leaves, seeds, grains, roots as well as animal foods such as insects like midge larvae and worms found in lakes. They can dive for longer periods of time when they are gobbling up on food!

Are they dangerous?

No, the white-headed duck (Oxyura leucocephala) is a small bird, they aren't harmful in the least! In fact, these birds are silent, cautious, and shy! They stay in the water so they can cover themselves. Often they are preyed on by humans while hunting and even their eggs are being used to consume by humans hence leading to their endangered status.

Would they make a good pet?

Unlike, the major population of ducks which prefer both land and water, white-faced duck is not very fond of land and is shy. Therefore, although ducks like the Indian runner duck or the American black duck have been seen to be kept as pets, it's highly unlikely that you can keep them as a pet because it is not as friendly as other ducks and requires a particular kind of habitat. You would find it hard to maintain one because the white-headed duck diet is very demanding. One of the major reasons why you cannot keep it as a pet is because it is not a domestic duck. Especially now the white-headed duck (Oxyura leucocephala) is a threatened species that only lowers the possibility of considering it as a pet.  

Did you know...

The white-headed duck (Oxyura leucocephala) is perhaps the only duck with a prominent bright head! It is quite rare to find a bird with this feature!

In some cities, there is a law against feeding them due to their endangered status. Although it is enjoyable to feed human food to ducks, it is not favorable to these beautiful ducks, as it can cause them further health problems.

In the '70s, according to birdlife international, the Spanish population of this threatened species was very close to extinction, however, due to the ban on hunting, their decline had been reversed.

Ducks like bufflehead duck or Oxyura leucocephala are one of the few duck species that possess a white head as compared to the contrasting color of the rest of their body.

Why are white-headed ducks becoming extinct?

One of the major reasons why these birds are an endangered species is because of hunting. However now due to laws, that has been taken under control.  These blue-billed birds have been facing quite some trouble when it comes to breeding due to the introduction of ruddy ducks. This has caused significant problems in the mating process and as a result leading to declining in their population. Lastly, the loss of their habitat also contributes to these birds being endangered. There is some hope for this species as NGOs like birdlife international are taking initiatives to save them!

What breed of duck is the friendliest?

The friendliest species of duck has to be the white Pekin ducks! They are very calm and often the most opted pet on farms! They too are extremely cute, especially when they're ducklings, they have soft yellow feathers. These ducks are primarily bred for eggs and meat.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these boreal chickadee facts and rhinoceros hornbill facts pages.  

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable white-headed duck coloring pages.



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