Wildlife in Italy: Gray Tufted Aythya marila

Wildlife in Italy: Gray Tufted Aythya marila

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Systematic classification and distribution

Class: Birds
Order: Anseriformes
Family: Anatidi
Kind: Aythya
Species: A. marila L.

L'Aythya marilait is an arctic species, distributed throughout the circumpolar Arctic region, i.e. in the most extreme lands of Russia, Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Iceland and the Scandinavian Peninsula. It performs large flights through the boreal forests of Canada before reaching the wintering territories located along the Atlantic coast or in the Great Lakes region; or migrate across the open sea from Alaska to the lands of the Pacific coast. The gray tufted duck can occasionally also be observed in Central America and the Caribbean during the winter. In Italy, where she is a regular migrant and winter visitor, her abundance varies widely according to the years. The most important places at national level are the lagoons of Grado and Marano and the bay of Ponzano, in Friuli-Venezia Giulia.

Pair of gray Tufted Duck - Aythya marila L. (photo www.europamadarai.hu)

Gray duck - Aythya marila L. (photo putneymark)

Distinctive characters

It has a blue beak and yellow eyes. The male has a dark head with green reflections, a black chest, a light back, a black tail and a white back while the adult female has a white band at the base of the beak and a brown head and body.

Total length: 42-51 cm
Wingspan: 71–80 cm

Gray duck - Aythya marila L. (photo www.avibirds.com)


The gray tufted duck feeds mainly on molluscs and aquatic plants, which it finds by diving and swimming underwater. It is a gregarious species during winter and migrations. It is frequently associated with other anatidae (often coot, pochard, tufted duck) on feeding places. Like the other diving ducks, it feeds by looking for food by diving underwater and to take off, it runs after the water. It is easy to observe when laid even for the habit of attending open waters. During the flight, which is quite straight, fast and tense, it is easily seen.

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