The adult male is unmistakable, with its brown head and breast with a broad white crescent over the eye. The rest of the plumage is grey, with loose grey scapular feathers It has a grey bill and legs. In flight it shows a pale blue speculum with a white border. When swimming it will show prominent white edges on its tertials. His crown is dark and face is reddish-brown. Some care is needed in separating the brown female from the similar Common Teal, but the stronger face markings and more frequent head-shaking when dabbling are good indicators.
Habitat and Distribution
It breeds in much of Europe and western Asia, but is strictly migratory, with the entire population moving to southern Africa, India (in particular Santragachi), and Australasia in winter, where large flocks can occur. Their breeding habitat is grassland adjacent to shallow marshes and steppe lakes.
These birds feed mainly by skimming rather than upending.
Calls and Songs
The male has a distinctive crackling mating call; the female is rather silent for a female duck, but can manage a feeble quack.