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First breeding record of Black Duck Anas rubripes in Azores and the Western Palaearctic.

It has been suspected for several years that the Black Duck Anas rubripes, resident in North America, has also bred on the Azores. Birds driven by the severe autumn storms are discovered every year on the distant islands in the Atlantic, some of which probably breed there. In particular observations in September 1998 and August 2000 on the island of Flores, part of the western group of the archipelago, tend to strengthen this suspicion. Black Ducks were recorded on Flores during the 2008 breeding season. On 11 June 2008 two males were at first observed on the small lake called Lagoinha in the western part of the island, a lake completely surrounded with dense vegetation. Finally a female was sighted followed by three chicks aged between 14 to 20 days old.
   The sighting of the female Black Duck with chicks is almost certainly the first reliable breeding record of this Nearctic species in the West Palaearctic region. Apart from the observations on the Azores there were previously only breeding reports from Britain. These however were without exception hybrid offspring of Black Duck x Mallard A. platyrhynchos. Analysis of the photographic evidence of the Black Ducks discovered this year on the Lagoinha lake show that there is no evidence of hybrid influence. Additionally, all other possible breeding waters on the island were searched for further Anatidae but no other ducks were found. It is therefore highly probable that one of the male Black Duck observed was the partner of the female with chicks.
   As there have been repeated records of hybrids on the islands of Flores and Corvo since 1999, the problem of mixed broods between Black Duck and Mallard will be discussed in an article in "Limicola" to be published this year. In this respect no evidence was forthcoming, which is due to the lack of observation activity during the summer months. The Black Duck breeding record once again demonstrates that rarities can be expected on the Azores not only in the autumn months rich in rare species

American Black Duck Anas rubripes Female with ducklings at Lagoinha below Miradouro Craveiro Lopez, Flores. Photo 2008-06-12. Photo: Jens Hering.

Jens Hering, Germany.

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