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White-headed duck (Oxyura leucocephala)

Mohamed bin Zayed Species project number 182515710

Searching for White-headed Duck (Oxyura leucocephala) Breeding and Wintering Grounds in Central Anatolia and Monitoring of Its Populations

Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation (Project No. 182515710) - White-headed duck - Awarded $10,000 on June 06, 2018

- News from the project - 

December and January months have been cold and snowy. Our team visited some wetlands that were not visited even for the mid-winter waterbird surveys. The survey results showed that there are only 26 individuals of white-headed ducks wintering in our study area, which constitutes the bulk of the Central Anatolia. Considering there were 200-300 individuals wintering in the region in the past, the situation doesn't look so good for the wintering populations of the species in the region. However, our heart filled with hope after discovering that in a small and remote wetland an adult male white-headed duck was seen in June, 2018. This place can well be a breeding ground for the species. We can't wait to go back there in April and May to see if the species is really using the wetland to breed. 


- Project Summary -  

Vast steppes of Central Anatolia is home to several endangered bird species and among them are white-headed ducks which have fascinated people of Asia Minor for centuries. Various names given to the species by locals prove the interest the species gets from Turkish people. Now, white-headed ducks of the region are in trouble. Once relatively widespread and numerous, white-headed ducks have suffered steep declines in their numbers in Turkey, just as in most parts of its global range. Currently, they are found in the really small numbers and scattered through the semi-dry steppes of Central Anatolia Region of Turkey. Recent studies and observations have shown that the species can be found in remote and small wetlands in the region which are ignored by birdwatchers and scientists due to their small size and remoteness. The count done in Kazakshtan in 2016 when the researchers have spotted more than 20.000 individuals (higher than the global estimate of the time) proved that this cryptic species is out there somewhere, possibly living in small wetlands that are not visited by researchers and, as a result, we fail to make accurate population estimates and provide proper conservation for those unnoticed populations.

The current project, which will be launched on 01.09.2018, aims at tackling this issue by visiting relatively remote and unvisited wetlands of Central Anatolia and coming up with a proper population estimate. At the same time, we will also detect and document the threats the species is facing in the region and cooperate with stakeholders to eliminate them. Success of Spanish people in bringing back white-headed ducks from the brink of extinction in the recent decades shows that it's never too late for white-headed ducks and that the species has the potential to recover fast.

If you believe you can contribute to this project in any way, please feel free to contact me anytime by sending an email to kaanozg@yahoo.com. Official website of the project has been launched and you can follow the link dikkuyruk.com to go to the website. The website is only available in Turkish and has all kinds of information and a data submission form through which people can submit their white-headed duck sightings. Stay tuned for updates! 

 Photo credits: Serkan Mutan, 2012 (retrieved from trakus.org, on 03.04.2018) 

Project 182515710 location - Turkey, Asia