WatchList Species Account for Mottled Duck (Anas flugivula)

Qualifies for the list as a Red List Species

 

Mottled Duck
Photo: Luther Goldman

The Mottled Duck is found in peninsular Florida and along the Gulf Coast from Alabama to Tampico, Mexico. It lives in freshwater ponds on Florida grasslands in the southern part of that state,, where it reaches its greatest densities. Mottled Duck also inhabits fresh to brackish non-tidal marsh ponds along the Gulf Coast.

 

The species is a year-round resident within its range, but may move in response to changing habitat conditions. It feeds on aquatic vegetation, including rice, aquatic invertebrates, and small fish. It occasionally dives for food and to avoid predation.

 

Among its mammalian predators are feral dogs and cats, raccoons, otters, skunks, coyotes, and foxes. Alligators, snapping turtles, bullfrogs and avian predators such as Northern Harrier and Peregrine Falcon also prey upon the Mottled Duck.

 

Populations fluctuate widely in response to drought conditions. The most serious threat to the bird in Florida is drainage for development and for citrus orchards and cattle pasture. Drainage, coastal erosion, channelization, and development have led to the loss or degradation of much habitat for the Mottled Duck in Louisiana and Texas. An additional threat is the interbreeding with domestic strains of the closely-related Mallard. Little is known about the bird’s status in Mexico.

 

Habitat loss and habitat degradation should be addressed in several ways, including educational programs aimed at landowners, since most of the bird’s populations occur on private lands. Wetland drainage should be discouraged or controlled, fires to generate forage for cattle should be timed not to affect the birds, particularly when breeding, and overgrazing of the grasslands should be avoided.