Spot-billed duck


Spot-billed duck (Anas poecilorhyncha)

The Spot-billed duck (Anas poecilorhyncha) is a dabbling duck from the family of water birds that includes ducks, geese, and swans (Anatidae).

Species name

Dutch name:
English name:
Spot-billed duck
German name:
French name:
Canard à bec tacheté
Scientific name:
Anas poecilorhyncha

Scientific classification




Head and neck pale buff-grey, lightly streaked with black, crown and broad line through eyes black. Lower neck and breast buff-grey with black spotting, graduating to flanks and abdomen dark feathers with buff-grey edging, ventral region, rump, tail and tail-coverts, almost plain black-brown. Upperparts blackish with fine buff-grey borders to mantle feathers and scapulars. Wing grey-black, with white inner tertials, white tips to greater coverts, green secondaries with black base and subterminal band and white tips (speculum green between black and white bands).

As Male but smaller and duller, with smaller spots on underparts 

Duller then adults, Darker brown below with less obvious spots.




Often found in groups of up to fifty birds. Freely mix with other dabbling duck species. Pair bonds may be prolonged.

Standard Measurements

Body Length (cm):
The male (drake) of the Spot-billed duck measures approximately 58-63 centimeters. The female measures approximately 58-63 centimeters.
Body Weight (grams):
The male will weight about 1230-1480 gram. The female will weight about 820-1335 gram.
The weight is notoriously variable and can only be used as indication!

There are 2 subspecies

  • Indian spot-billed duck - Anas poecilorhyncha poecilorhyncha
  • Eastern spot-billed duck - Anas poecilorhyncha zonorhyncha
  • Burmese spot-billed duck - Anas poecilorhyncha haringtoni (1)

(1) The eastern spot-billed duck was formerly considered as a third subspecies. Fieldwork carried out at Hong Kong in southern China and published in 2006 found that although both the eastern spot-billed duck and the Indian spot-billed duck (subspecies A. poecilorhyncha haringtoni) bred in the region at the same time, mixed pairs were only very rarely observed. Based on this observation most taxonomists now treat the eastern spot-billed duck as a separate species.


Dabbling Ducks are generally hardy, easy to maintain and easy to breed. Shelter may be required by some of the smaller species in winter. They should be provided with cover (including marginal pond cover) and loafing areas as well as water. A pen which is 50% water is suggested. The water may be shallow (i.e. no more than two feet deep is required), and muddy areas for dabbling in are also appreciated. These ducks are generally good in mixed collections, although the smaller and quieter species may be bullied. Territorial disputes between ducks of the same species may be avoided by keeping only one pair of each species in an enclosure, unless the area is very large. For a single pair of ducks a pen are of 50 to 100 square metres, depending on the size of duck, should be provided.

A diet based on wheat and pellets is suggested, with maintenance pellets changed to breeders pellets for the breeding season. Greenfood is also appreciated. Grit should always be available, with soluble grit (e.g. oystershell grit) as a calcium source when breeding.

Most species are ground nesters and both close ground cover and ground level nest boxes should be provided. Hand-rearing is generally preferred, as these ducks are generally poor parents in captive conditions, particularly in enclosures shared with other waterfowl. These ducks are prone to hybridization, particularly with closely related species, which should be kept apart from one another.

Spot-billed ducks are winter-hardy, easily bred, feed grain. Hardy and prolific, these ducks are generally suitable for mixed collections, although they are sometimes reported to be quarrelsome. 

These ducks are fairly easy to breed. They nest in low or close ground cover or ground-level nest boxes. Eggs laid April to mid-May or June. Ducklings may be parent-reared.

These ducks commonly hybridise within the mallard-type ducks: maintenance in enclosures away from other similar species is suggested. Drakes may pair with Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) and other similar species; intentional hybrids have been produced with Anas species, Wood duck (Aix sponsa), and Red-crested pochard (Netta rufina), with most of the hybrids being fertile.


The female Spot-billed duck usually lays from 7-9 buff eggs and incubates them for 26-28 days.

Artificial incubating:

The ideal relative humidity for incubating most waterfowl eggs is 55% (ground nesters) and 40% (cavity nesters). The temperature is usually 37.4°C. Set ventilation as recommended by the incubator manufacturer. Eggs must be turned, either automatically or by hand, a minimum of 4 times a day. As the duckling develops there is a loss of water from the egg and the air sac gets bigger. In normal development of an egg with a 26-28 days incubation, the air sac occupies about a third of it three days earlier. Cleanliness is vital and ideally eggs should be moved to a separate hatcher at this point, where the humidity should be increased to 65% and even higher once they have pipped internally.

Bird banding:
Recommended closed leg band ring size for the Spot-billed duck is 12 mm.
The leg band ring can only be applied on a young dabbling duck at around 12-14 days old.

It doesn't matter what leg that you band, but it's good to have a consistent system.
Suggested: Left leg = Female, Right leg = Male
Maintenance food:
Lundi Regular
Lundi Regular
Lundi Regular
Lundi Regular
Lundi Regular

Lundi Regular with a protein content of 20%, valuable Spirulina and high-quality by-products is optimally balanced in its composition maintenance food for water ornamental fowl of all kinds. Especially green teal and Whistling ducks that are not dependent on a very high protein content, are well supplied.

Lundi Regular contains all the minerals and vitamins in full form that are important for the animals. Therefore also suitable as breeding food.

Lundi Premium
Lundi Premium
Lundi Premium
Lundi Premium
Lundi Premium

Floating full food for all sea ducks, green ducks, eider ducks and geese, especially in the moulting and breeding phase ideally suited. Packed with wholesome raw materials, natural vitamins and trace elements, this performance food with a protein content of 30% forms the basis for lifelong vitality.

Photos of the Spot-billed duck