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Comb Duck
Comb Duck

Comb duck (Knob-billed duck)

Comb Duck

Study With Safari Guides in Botswana

What safari guides should know:

Many nature guides and in particular birding guides were incensed at the extensive name changes at the turn of the millennium. The comb duck was known as knob-billed duck previously and the large knob on the bill of the male of this species is quite unique. So why change a perfectly good name that describes the bird to something arbitrary that seems totally random? Many say the people who write the books wanted to sell more books and earn more money. However, it is not the authors of the books that came up with the recent name changes.
In this instance it was a simple matter that there were 3 distinct populations of what was considered one species living in South America, Africa and Asia. When they are split these into unique species the law of primacy applied and the first population discovered and named retained the name knob-billed duck and the latter species were renamed.
The fleshy knob on the bill of the male comb duck is known as a comb and this is the origin of the new name.
All guides on Level 1 and 2 nature guide and ecology courses should be able to identify this prominent duck


Unmistakable black and white duck showing iridescent green on the wing in bright sunlight. Males are much larger than females and have a large fleshy comb on top of the bill when breeding.

Distribution in Botswana:

Occurs seasonally in the north, east and south-east of Botswana through the summer months. Scarce outside of the rain season.


FGASA Level 1 Course Specialist Birding Course