White-headed ducks fall into drastic decline

The white-headed duck (Oxyura leucocephala) probably had a global population of over 100,000 in the early 20th century; in the 1930s an estimated 50,000 wintered on the Caspian Sea. However, by 1991 the population was estimated at a mere 19,000 ducks. Over the last 100 years the white-headed duck has become extinct as a breeding bird in Albania, Azerbaijan, Corsica, Hungary, Italy, Morocco, and former Yugoslavia. Despite the historical declines, however, there was some optimism in 1991, since the population was thought to be relatively stable. Since 1991 that optimism has faded. Numbers appear to have plummeted over the last decade to fewer than 10,000 birds. The decline has been most severe at what was the most important wintering site, Burdur Gölü in Turkey. In 1991 about 10,900 birds wintered there, but in 1996 only 1,270 were recorded. Obviously, some of the birds have simply scattered to other wetlands, and wintering numbers have increased elsewhere in the eastern Mediterranean region. They include the doubling of the population at Lake Vistonis, Greece, with other larger increases in Bulgaria and Romania. However, the counts do not compensate for the very large declines at Burdur Gölü.

Source: Tehran Times, June 19, 2017