Rhodonessa caryophyllacea Latham, 1790:866

Pink-headed duck, Gulab-sir (Hindi)



Taxonomy & Nomenclature

Synonym/s: Anas caryophyllacea Latham, 1790:866; Netta caryophyllacea Latham, 1790:866


Conservation Status


Last record: 1930's in the wild (1935?); c.1945 in captivity

IUCN RedList status: Critically Endangered


A last recorded date in the wild of 1949 is often given (e.g. Tordoff et al. 2008). However, no information can be found regarding exactly who may have made this sighting, nor under which circumstances, or exactly where the sighting was made. It is simply asserted, and no reason is given why we should prefer this date as opposed to the many others proposed both before and since. Sporadic reports of the species continue to be made up until the present, several of which have been made by knowledgeable ornithologists.



Bangadesh, India, Myanmar & Nepal


Biology & Ecology




1 specimen is in the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University:

Ornithology 76182 (male)


1 specimen is in the National Museum of Natural History, Leiden:

RMNH 110.082 (male)


1 specimen is in the National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh:

Z.1876.48.378 (male)


3 specimens are in the Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University, New Haven:

YPM ORN 042022 (male)

YPM ORN 042023 (female)

YPM ORN 097867 (male)







Original scientific description:

Latham, John. (1790). Index ornithologicus, sive Systema Ornithologiae; complectens avium divisionem in classes, ordines, genera, species, ipsarumque varietates: adjectis synonymis, locis, descriptionibus, &c.. London: Leigh & Sotheby. 


Other references:

Abdulali, H. (1968) A catalogue of the birds in the collection of the Bombay Natural History Society – 2 Anseriformes. J. Bombay. Nat. Hist. Soc. 65(2): 418-430.

Ali, S. (1960). The Pink-headed Duck Rhodonessa caryophylacea (Latham). Wildfowl Trust Annual Report (i.e. 1958-59) 11: 55-60.

Ali, S. (1978) President’s letter ‘mystery’ birds of India-4: The Pinkheaded Duck (Rhodonessa caryophyllacea). Hornbill (April–June): 4–7

Ali, S. and Ripley, S. D. (1968). Handbook of the Birds of India and Pakistan, volume 1. Oxford University Press. [p. 175-177]

Anon (1921) Contributions to the museum. (Pink-headed Duck from Palia, North of Kheri, U.P.). J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 27: 970-973.

Anonymous. (2003). Pink-headed Duck survey in the Hukaung Valley, Myanmar. Babbler 8: 6-7.

Anonymous. (2006). Pink-headed Duck eludes latest BirdLife/BANCA survey. The Babbler: BirdLife in Indochina: 28.

Ara, Jamal. (1960). In search of the Pinkheaded Duck. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 57(2): 415-417.

Author? (1925). Rare Pink-Headed Duck Found After 3 Years. The Herald (India), February 19.

Baker, Edward Charles Stuart. (1908). The Indian Ducks and Their Allies. London: Bombay Natural History Society.

Baskaran, Theodore S. (1989). Yet Another Rediscovery. The Hindu, Sunday Supplement, Aug 27.

BirdLife International (2000) Threatened Birds of the World. Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, Barcelona and Cambridge.

BirdLife International 2009. Rhodonessa caryophyllacea. In: IUCN 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.4. ( Downloaded on 26 April 2011.

Blanford, W. T. (1898). Fauna of British India, including Ceylon and Burma. Birds, volume 4. London: Taylor & Francis.

Brush, A. H. (1976). Waterfowl feather proteins: analysis of use in taxonomic studies. Journal of Zoology 179: 467-498.

Bucknill, J. A. S. (1924). The Disappearance of the Pink-headed Duck (Rhodonessa caryophyllacea Lath.). Ibis 66: 146-151, 593-594. [12th series, volume 1]

Butchart, S. H. M., Collar, Nigel J., Crosby, M. J. and Tobias, J. A. (2005). Asian enigmas: "Lost" and poorly known birds: targets for birders in Asia. Birding Asia 3: 41-49.

Butchart, Stuart H. M., Stattersfield, A. J. and Brooks, T. M. (2006). Going or gone: defining ‘Possibly Extinct’ species to give a truer picture of recent extinctions. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club 126A: 7-24.

Coleman, Loren. (2010). "New search for Pink-headed duck", posted on (September 18th, 2010). available from:

Collar, N. J. et al. (1994). Birds to Watch 2. The World List of Threatened Birds. Cambridge: Birdlife International.

Collar, N. J.; Andreev, A. V.; Chan, S.; Crosby, M. J.; Subramanya, S. & Tobias, J. A. (editors). (2001). Pink-headed Duck. In: Threatened Birds of Asia: The BirdLife International Red Data Book, 489-501. BirdLife International.

Dang, Nguyen Hong Hanh. (2005). Latest search fails to locate Pink-headed Duck. Babbler 16: 21-22.

Day, David. (1981). The Doomsday Book of Animals: A Natural History of Vanished Species. New York, N.Y.: The Viking Press.

Delacour, J. (1924) Indian bird notes. Avicultural Mag. (4)2: 30-32.

Delacour, J. (1926) The birds at Foxwarren Park. Avicultural Mag. (4)4: 37-41.

Delacour, J. (1932) Bird notes from Clères. Avicultural Mag. (4)10: 5-8.

Delacour, J. (1941) The end of Clères. Avicultural Mag. (5)6: 81-84.

Delacour, J. (1955) In memoriam Alfred Ezra, O.B.E. Avicultural Mag. 61(5): 215-219.

Delacour, J. and Scott, P. (1954-64). The Waterfowl of the World, 4 vols. London: Country Life. [volume 2]

Eames, J. C. (2005) Latest search fails to locate Pink-headed Duck. Babbler 16: 21-22.

Eames, J. C. (2008) Latest survey fails to find Pink-headed Duck. Babbler: BirdLife in Indochina 24-25: 31-32.

Ellis, M. (1998) News and views. Out for a duck. Avicultural Mag. 104(1): 41-42.

Ericson, Per G. P. et al. (2017). A genomic perspective of the pink-headed duck Rhodonessa caryophyllacea suggests a long history of low efective population size. Scientific Reports 7: 16853.

Ezra, A. (1925). Arrival of a very rare duck. The Pink-headed Duck (Rhodonessa caryophyllacea). Avicult. Mag, series 4, 3: 299-300.

Ezra, A. (1926). The Pink-headed Duck (Rhodonessa caryophyllacea). Avicult. Mag., series 4, 4: 325.

Ezra, A. (1930). Élévages et observations à Foxwarren. L'Oiseau 11: 501-505.

Ezra, A. (1941). Some rare ducks I have kept. Avicult. Mag., ser. 5, 6(4): 141-144.

Finn, F. (1900) Cage-birds in Calcutta. Avicultural Mag. 6 (69): 208–209.

Finn, F. (1901) Some out-of-the-way ducks. Avicultural Mag. 7 (7): 129–134.

Finn, F. (1915). Indian Sporting Birds. London: Francis Edwards.

Fisher, Clemency T. (1999). Patna artists. Four watercolours of birds, pp. 98-101. In: National Art Collection Fund 1998 Review. London: National Art Collections Fund.

Fisher, Clemency and Kear, Janet. (2002). The taxonomic importance of two early paintings of the Pink-headed Duck Rhodonessa caryophyllacea (Latham 1790). Bulletin of the British Ornithologists Club 122(4): 244-248.

Fisher, Clemency T. and Warr, F. E. (2003). Museums on paper: library & manuscript resources. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club 123A: 136-164.

Fuller, Errol. (1988). Extinct Birds. New York: Facts on File Publications. 256 pp.

Fuller, Errol. (2013). Lost Animals: Extinction and the Photographic Record. London: Bloomsbury Publishing.

Garrod, Alfred Henry. (1875). On the form of the lower larynx in certain species of ducks. Proc. Zool. Soc. London. 151-156.

Global Wildlife Conservation (2017) The search for lost species: Pink-headed Duck. Available at: [Accessed 28 September 2018]

Greenway JC (1967) Extinct and Vanishing Birds of the World. American C ommittee for International Wild Life Protection, Special Publication no 13, 2nd edn. Dover Publications, New York.

Halliday, Tim. (1978). Vanishing Birds: Their Natural History and Conservation. London: Sidgwick & Jackson.

Hamilton, E. (1874) Pink-headed Duck. Proc. Zool. Soc. Lond. [1874]: 110.

Higgins, J. C. (1913). Barr's Pochard, Nyroca baeri and other rare ducks in Manipur State. JBNHS xx(2): 399.

Higgins, J. C. (1933) The game birds and animals of Manipur State, with notes on their numbers, migration and habits. Pt. 1. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 36: 406-422.

Hubbard, R. (1907) Ornamental waterfowl. Walsall: W. H. Robinson.

Hume, Allan O. (1879). (Letter about Anas caryophyllacea.) Stray Feathers 8: 501-503.

Hume, Allan O. (1888). The Birds of Manipur, Assam, Sylet and Cachar. Stray Feathers 11: 1-353.

Hume, Allan O. and Marshall, C. H. T. (1879). The game birds of India, Burmah and Ceylon. Calcutta: Self published by the authors. [1881?]

Hume, J. P. (2017a) Extinct birds. Second edition. London: Christopher Helm.

Hume, Julian Pender. (2017b). A high price to pay: new light on the extinction of the Pink-headed Duck Rhodonessa caryophyllacea. Forktail 33: 56-63.

Hume, Julian Pender and Walters, Michael. (2012). Extinct Birds. London: T & AD Poyser.

Humphrey, Philip S., and, Ripley, S. Dillon. (1962). The affinities of the Pink-headed duck (Rhodonessa caryophyllacea). Postilla 61: 1-21.

Inglis, C. M. (1904) The birds of the Madhubani sub-division of the DarBhanga district, Tirhut, with notes on species noticed elsewhere in the district. Part VII. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 15(2): 337-343.

Inglis, C. M. (1940) Records of some rare, or uncommon, geese and ducks and other water birds and waders in North Bihar. J. Bengal Nat. Hist. Soc. 15(2): 56-60.

Jameson, S. (1969a) Pinkheaded Duck on Chhora Beel, West Bengal. Newsletter for Birdwatchers 9(6): 10.

Jameson, J. (1969b) Pinkheaded Duck. Newsletter for Birdwatchers 9(9): 7-8.

Jansen, Justin J. F. (2015). The bird collection of the Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle, Paris, France: the first years (1793-1825). Journal of the National Museum (Prague), Natural History Series 184(5): 81-111.

Jardine, E. R. (1909). Occurrence of the Pink-headed Duck (Rhodonessa caryophyllacea) in Burma. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 19(1): 264.

Jerdon, T. C. (1864). The birds of India: a natural history, volume 3. Calcutta: The Military Orphan Press.

Johnsgard, P. A. (1961). The trachial anatomy of the Anatidae and its taxonomic significance. Wildfowl Trust Annual Report 12: 58-69.

Jouanin, Christian. (1962). Inventaire des oiseaux éteints ou en voie d’extinction conservés au Muséum de Paris. Terre et Vie 109: 275-301.

Kear, J. (1990) Man and wildfowl. London: T. & A. D. Poyser.

Khoshoo, T. N. (1996). India needs a National Biodiversity Conservation Board. Current Science 71(7): 506-513.

Knox, Alan G. and Walters, Michael P. (1994). Extinct and endangered birds in the collections of The Natural History Museum. British Ornithologists' Club Occasional Publications 1: 1-292.

Kolbe, H. (1999) Die entenvögel der welt. Verlag: J. Neumann-Neudamm.

Latham, J. (1787). General Synopsis of Birds. Supplement 1. London: Leigh & Sotheby. [p. 276]

Livezey, Brad C. (1986). A phylogenetic analysis of recent anseriform genera using morphological characters. Auk 103(4): 737-754.

Livezey, Bradley C. (1996). A phylogenetic analysis of modern pochards (Anatidae: Aythyini). The Auk 113(1): 74-93.

Livezey, Bradley C. (1997). A phylogenetic classification of waterfowl (Aves: Anseriformes), including selected fossil species. Annals of Carnegie Museum 66, 457-496.

Lonnberg, E. (1924) Den rosenhovdade anden, Rhodonessa caryophyllacea Lath. utrotad. Fauna och Flora 2: 49-52.

Marshall, A. H. (1918). Occurrence of the Pinkheaded Duck Rhodonessa caryophyllacea in the Punjab. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 25(3): 502-503.

Mehta, K. L. (1960). A Pinkheaded Duck at last? J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 57(2): 417.

Mittra, D. K. (1996) Ram Brahma Sanyal and the establishment of the Calcutta

Zoological Gardens. Pp.86–93 in R. J. Hoage & W. A. Deiss, eds. New worlds, new animals. From menagerie to zoological park in the nineteenth century. Baltimore & London: John Hopkins University Press.

Mukherjee, A. K. (1974) Some examples of recent faunal impoverishment and regression. Pp.330–368 in M. S. Mani, ed. Ecology and biogeography in India. The Hague: Dr W. Junk Publishers. [relevant reference?]

Nugent, Rory. (1991) The search for the Pink-headed Duck: A journey into the Himalayas and down to the Brahmaputra. Boston, Massachusetts: Houghton Mifflin Company.

Nguyen, Thi Ngoc Ha. (2003). Pink-headed Duck survey in the Hukaung Valley, Myanmar. Babbler 8: 6-7.

Phillips, J. C. (1922-26). A Natural History of the Ducks, 4 vols. London: Longmans Green, and, Boston: Houghton Mifflin. [volume 1, 1922]

Prestwich, A. A. (1968) News and views. Avicultural Mag. 74(4): 153.

Prestwich,  A. A. (1974). The Pink-headed Duck (Rhodonessa caryophyllacea) in the wild and in captivity. Avic. Mag. 80: 47-52.

Rahmani, A. R. (2012) Threatened birds of India: their conservation requirements. Mumbai: Bombay Natural History Society.

Ripley, S. Dillon. (1950). Two birds about which more information is needed. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 49(1): 119-120.

Ripley, S. Dillon. (1952). Vanishing and extinct bird species of India. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 50(4): 902-906.

Roland, J. G. 1989 The Jewish communities of India: identity in a colonial era. Second edition. New Brunswick USA & London: Transaction Publishers.

Santapau, H., Futehally, Z. & Daniel, J. C. (1966) Editorial comments. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 63(2): 441.

Sclater, P. L. S. (1875) Revised list of the vertebrated animals now or lately living in the gardens of the Zoological Society of London. Supplement containing additions received in 1872, 1873, and 1874. London: Longmans, Green, Reader & Dyer.

Scott, Peter. (1973). Species Extinction in Birds. Bird Study 20(2): 93-102.

Seth-Smith, D. (1932) Foxwarren Park. Avicultural Mag. 10(6): 117-120. 

Shuker, K. P. N. 1991. Extraordinary Animals Worldwide. Robert Hale, London.

Simson, Frank B. (1884). Notes on the Pink-headed Duck (Anas caryophyllacea). Ibis 26(3): 271-275. [Abstract]

Singh, Laliteshwar Prasad. (1966). The Pinkheaded Duck Rhodonessa caryophyllacea (Latham) again. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 63(2): 440-441.

Stokes, H. S. (1933) The president’s party. Avicultural Mag. (4)11: 192-193.

Thomas, Daniel B. and James, Helen F. (2016). Nondestructive Raman spectroscopy confirms carotenoid-pigmented plumage in the Pink-headed Duck. The Auk 133: 147-154.

Thorns, Richard. (2015). Searching For the Pink-Headed Duck in Myanmar. The Journal of Cryptozoology 3: 47-61.

Thorns, R. (2017) Which one’s pink? The search for the Pink-headed Duck in Burma. Accessed at on 28/10/2017

Todd, F. S. (1996) Natural history of the waterfowl. Vista CA: Ibis Publishing

Todd, Frank S. (1997). Natural History of the Waterfowl. Ibis Publishing. 501 pp.

Tordoff, A. W.; Appleton, T.; Eames, J. C.; Eberhardt, K.; Htin Hla; Khin Ma Ma Thwin; Sao Myo Zaw; Saw Moses; Sein Myo Aung. (2008). The historical and current status of Pink-headed Duck Rhodonessa caryophyllacea in Myanmar. Bird Conservation International 18(1): 38-52. [Abstract]

Tweedie, Maurice. (1879). Letter to the editor. Stray feathers: The Journal of ornithology for India and its dependencies 7(6): 527-528.

Tyrberg, Tommy. (2009). Holocene avian extinctions, pp. 63-106. In: Turvey, Samuel T. (ed.). Holocene Extinctions. Oxford, UK & New York, USA: Oxford University Press. xii + 352 pp.

Van, Joost van der. (2007). Roze is een kleur / Searching for a duck in Myanmar. IJzer.

van der Ven, J. (2007) Roze is een Kleur: Zoektochten naar een Eend in Myanmar. Utrecht: Uitgeverij IJzer

Vargas, Pablo. (2023). Exploring ‘endangered living fossils’ (ELFs) among monotypic genera of plants and animals of the world. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 11: 1100503.

Walters, Michael. (1998). The eggs of the Pink-headed Duck. Bull. Brit. Orn. Club 118(3): 187-191.

Wetmore, A. (1938) Canaries and other cage-bird friends. Nat. Geo. Mag. 74(6): 775-806.

Whistler, H. (1916). The Pink-headed Duck Rhodonessa caryophyllacea, Lath. in the Punjab. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 24(3): 599.

Woolfenden, G. E. (1961). Postcranial osteology of the waterfowl. Bulletin of the Florida State Museum for Biological Science 6: 1-29.

Wright, R. G. & Dewar, D. (1925) The ducks of India: their habits, breeding grounds and migrations, together with other useful information for the sports man and observer. Cornell University: H. F. & G. Witherby.

Zarrin, Ameeza. (2023). Documenting the bird collection in the State Museum, Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh, India). Indian BIRDS 18(6): 163-180.


<< Back to the Anseriformes (Waterfowl) database