A powerful, pale mottled greyish brown duck with a pronounced occipital crest. The Crested Duck is a close relative of the Bronze-winged Duck Speculanas specularis. Now included in the tribe Anatini, Crested Ducks were described by Delacour as a link between dabblers and the shelducks, tribe Tadornini. The species offers a mixture of the characteristics of both tribes. The specific name, specularoides, relates to the bright metallic speculum, which is very visible in flight.
Their natural diet is mainly animal material, such as molluscs and crustacea. They have a long breeding season, possibly 2 or 3 clutches.
There are two sub-species, both hailing from the southern part of South America:
Patagonian Crested Duck L. s. specularoides of southern Chile, Argentina and Falkland Islands.
Andean Crested Duck L.s. alticola of the mountainous areas further north.
The Patagonian Crested Duck (pictured) is not common in UK collections. It is a feisty bird and relatively powerful. However it can become relatively confiding. Sometimes the presence of Mallard nearby can affect their nesting success.
The Andean race have all but disappeared from captivity. They are markedly more pugnacious. Anyone up for a challenge?