Bird Conservation International

Research Article

The historical and current status of Pink-headed Duck Rhodonessa caryophyllacea in Myanmar

Andrew W. Tordoffa1 c1, Tim Appletona2, Jonathan C. Eamesa3, Karin Eberhardta4, Htin Hlaa5, Khin Ma Ma Thwina5, Sao Myo Zawa6, Saw Mosesa6 and Sein Myo Aunga6

a1 BirdLife International Wellbrook Court, Girton Road, Cambridge CB3 0NA, UK

a2 Rutland Water Nature Reserve, Egleton, Oakham, Rutland, LE15 8BT, U.K

a3 BirdLife International in Indochina, N6/2+3, Lane 25, Langtla Street, Hanoi, Vietnam

a4 80P Kanbawza Lane 1, Bahan Township, Yangon, Myanmar

a5 Biodiversity and Nature Conservation Association, A/6-2 Anawrathar Housing, Hledan, Ward #2, Kamayut Township, Yangon, Myanmar

a6 Wildbird Adventure Travels and Tours, P. O. Box 1136, Yangon, Myanmar


Pink-headed Duck Rhodonessa caryophyllacea is a Critically Endangered species that has not been confirmed in the wild since 1948–1949. Historical records of the species are concentrated in India, although there are also a few from Myanmar. Between 2003 and 2005, BirdLife International and the Biodiversity and Nature Conservation Association (BANCA) conducted a series of field surveys of wetland habitats in the lowlands of Kachin state, an area with a cluster of historical records of the species. These were the first targeted efforts to assess the status of the species in Myanmar. These surveys were complemented by reviews of museum specimens and literature relating to the species in Myanmar. Two specimen records represent very strong evidence that the species occurred in Myanmar historically, although they shed little light on its seasonal status in the country. The surveys conducted by BirdLife International and BANCA were unable to confirm the continued occurrence of Pink-headed Duck in Myanmar. However, they did generate a limited amount of equivocal direct evidence, most notably two possible but unconfirmed sightings. There are several reasons for believing that the species may still persist in the lowlands of Kachin state and, perhaps, elsewhere in Myanmar. Shyness, combined with rarity, possible nocturnal habits and the impenetrability of its habitats, means that the species tended to be under-recorded historically, and may continue to be so currently. Further surveys are required to confirm this.

(Received June 27 2006)

(Accepted April 26 2007)


c1 Author for correspondence; e-mail: