Birds by Name – P
Pacific Black Duck
The Pacific Black Duck, Anas superciliosa, is a dabbling duck found in much of Indonesia, New Guinea, Australia, New Zealand and on many islands in the south-western Pacific.
The Pacific Black Duck grows up to around 60 centimetres in length. It has a dark body, a pale greyish neck, a dark crown and stripes, or flashes, on its face.
Often sharing the same territory as Mallards, there has been a lot of cross-breeding or hybridisation, as is often the case when Mallards are about.
Species: A. superciliosa
The Piapiac, Ptilostomus afer, is a member of the crow family and is just a bit smaller than the Magpie. It is found in the tropical equatorial region of central Africa from Senegal to Sudan and southern Ethiopia.
The Piapac is often found in agricultural areas and feeds on insects, invertebrates and general carrion.
Species: P. afer
The Plain-backed Pipit, also known as the Plain Pipit, Anthus leucophrys, is a medium-sized passerine bird, although big for a Pipit, which is a resident breeder in Africa south of the Sahara Desert.
The Plain-backed Pipit likes open habitats, especially short grassland and cultivated areas. It builds its nest on the ground and usually lays three eggs.
The Plain-backed Pipit is a large pipit at 17 centimetres in length and is streaked grey-brown above and pale below with light breast streaking.
Species: A. leucophrys
Little Ringed Plover
The Little Ringed Plover, Charadrius dubius, is a small plover found throughout Europe and Asia and has a grey-brown back and wings, white belly, a white breast with a black band at the neck, a brown cap, white forehead, black mask around the eyes and with a bit of white above the short dark bill. The eyes themselves are very distinctive with a yellow ring around them.
The legs of the Little Ringed Plover are a sort of pinky, flesh colour and the toes are webbed.
They are usually found near freshwater where they hunt for insects and worms. They are migratory and spend the winter in Africa.
Species: C. dubius
The Common Ringed Plover or Ringed Plover, Charadrius hiaticula, is a small plover, very similar to the Little Ringed Plover, with a grey-brown back and wings, white belly, white breast with one black band at the neck, a brown cap, white forehead, black mask around the eyes but with a short orange and black bill.
The legs are orange (pinkish on the Little Ringed Plover) and unlike with the Little Ringed Plover there is no yellow ring around the eyes.
The Ringed Plover is migratory and can be found near freshwater, often in the vicinity of beaches. It feeds on crustaceans, insects and worms.
Species: C. hiaticula
The Pochard, Aythya ferina, is a medium-sized diving duck found in lakes and marshes with a water depth in excess of one metre.
The adult male has a long dark bill with a grey band, a red head and neck, a black breast, red eyes and a grey back. The adult female is a bit less distinctive with a brown head and body and a narrower grey band on the bill. However, the triangular shape of the head makes them stand out from the crowd.
Pochards are migratory and generally winter in the south and west of Europe. They feed mainly by diving or dabbling, eating aquatic plants, molluscs, aquatic insects and small fish.
Species: A. ferina
The Puffin, Fratercula arctica, is an auk in the Alcidae family and is quite distinctive with its multi-coloured beak.
It has a black back, white underparts, black head with pale cheeks and a sort of flattened, brightly-coloured bill. It also has red and black eye-markings and bright orange legs. The beak does become duller at the end of the breeding season as the Puffin sheds the outer part.
The Puffin spends most of the time at sea and they are primarily diving birds.
They breed in large colonies on coastal cliffs or offshore islands, making their nests in crevices among rocks or in burrows in the soil.
They eat fish.
Species: F. arctica