Anas laysanensis or Laysan Teal Ducks are rare, small brown ducks. Their most striking characteristic is a white ring around their eyes. Males and females appear quite similar. Females have a dull orange-colored bill, and males have a greenish bill with black splotches. Males can additionally be distinguished by their brighter orange feet. Laysan Teal Ducks also often have a ring of fat around their necks. Drakes have a bit of green sheen, and both sexes have purple-sheen on their wing speculum feathers.
The white feathers around the eye can spread to quite extensive white speckling over the face and head, especially as the duck age.
Range: Laysan Teal Ducks have one of the smallest ranges of any waterfowl - 1.60 square miles. Wild populations are currently only in existence on the island of Laysan. Laysan is one of the northwestern islands in Hawaii. Although evidence suggests that they used to be endemic to most of the Hawaiian islands, they were killed off with the arrival of humans and predatory mammals. As with many island-bound species, the Laysan Teal Duck is genetically unusual.
Habitat: Laysan Teal Ducks are well adapted to swimming as well as terrestrial foraging. They are energetic runners and will catch flies and moving bugs with ease through even thick vegetation. Their habitat is diverse on the island of Laysan. They forage on mudflats, lake shallows, shoreline, and upland forested areas during daylight and venturing to pen lake waters at nighttime.
Status in the Wild: In 1912, the total population of Laysan Teal Ducks was 7 adults and 5 young birds. With such a small and concentrated population, to begin with, these birds were vulnerable to various impacts brought on by humans inhabiting the islands. Laysan Teal Ducks evolved with overhead flying predators, so their first response to a threat is to freeze. With the introduction of terrestrial predators, this response was ineffectual. Rats, pigs, and dogs had a devastating effect on the ducks. The population of Laysan Teal Ducks was also adversely affected by the introduction of rabbits. The introduced rabbits decimated the vegetation on the island. Laysan is now under federal protection and is rat and rabbit free, and the Laysan Teal Ducks are in the process of recovering. In 2004, there was a population of 576 ducks on Laysan Island. 42 ducks were relocated in 2005. These were released at the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge to establish a secondary population. In 2007, the program proved itself successful, as the 42 had increased to 100 birds.
Status in Aviculture: With such a small wild population, Laysan Teal Ducks are rare in aviculture. This is a species for a serious aviculturist.
Breeding: Layson Teal Ducks pair up in the fall of their second year, and the pair starts to select a nest site in early spring. Nests are usually built by the female on the ground in dense vegetation. It is well-concealed and lined with dry grass and feathers. Eggs are laid in April through August. Clutch size is typically 4 eggs but can be more if birds have been well-fed and cared for. Ducklings are precocious, and they are capable of finding food on their own a day or so after hatching. They do remain under the care of the female for 40-60 days though.
Lifespan: Layson Teal Ducks have been known to live 10-12 years in the wild and up to 18 years of age in captivity.
Size: Layson Teal Ducks are small dark ducks, measuring about 16 inches in length.
Housing Requirements: Layson Teal Ducks need a safe and predator-proof enclosure. These birds will also require winter protection in cold climates.
Diet: Layson Teal Ducks are diverse feeders and their wild diet is made up of insects as well as vegetation.
Miscellaneous Notes: It is hoped that by 2019, the species will be downgraded from Critically Endangered to Threatened.