Blue-billed teal in Uganda

Blue-billed teal in Uganda

April 25, 2022

The blue-billed teal, spotted teal or Hottentot teal is scientifically called Spatula hottentota and it is a species of dabbling duck of the genus Spatula. The Hottentot teal is a migratory resident in Uganda from Sudan and Ethiopia and can be seen in Lutembe Bay, Mabamba swamp, and Queen Elizabeth national park.

The blue-billed teal breeds all year round, and stay either in small groups or pairs. Their nests are built using vegetation above water in tree stumps. The ducklings leave the nest immediately after hatching, and the mother’s parenting is limited to providing protection from predators and leading young to feeding areas.

The Blue-billed teal is omnivorous and prefers smaller shallow bodies of water of Uganda.

The blue-billed teal is a small duck with length of about 330–350 mm, the weight ranges between 53-288g, its wing is 147–157 mm with a tail of 55–66 mm and bill is 32–42 mm.

The male and female Blue-billed teal produces a series of clicking notes, given as harsh ke-ke-ke during flight, when disturbed, or within a flock.

The male produces a highly distinctive wooden rattling call that sounds like a mechanical rattle, whereas the female has a typical quack and a decrescendo call of only a few notes.

The blue-billed teal is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies. The status of the blue-billed teal on the IUCN Red List is Least Concern.

The blue-billed teal is a least concern species on the IUCN Red List however, habitat degradation in Uganda is a threat to this species. Therefore, the protection of wetlands and riverine vegetation, as well as controlled hunting, can help to maintain the population.

Several authorities still refer to this species as the Hottentot teal, however, as the word “Hottentot” is an offensive term for the Khoisan people, there has been a movement to change the vernacular name.

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