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It is a small swimming duck with little evident sexual dimorphism. The adult male is sandy brown in color, with a somewhat darker back and a multitude of whitish-yellowish spots on the stern, flanks and back. It has a striking dark mask with fuzzy edges and feathers like a small ponytail at the nape of the neck. Its head is finely fluted. The beak is fine and dark. The adult female is very similar, somewhat smaller in size, smaller ponytail and slightly different beak coloration. The young are very similar to the adults, but somewhat paler and grayish and with less obvious markings in general. In flight, the species appears relatively pale, especially the underside of the wings. Also the whitish secondaries contrast with the dark wingtips. The male, in the breeding season has a small crest.
Old section of a river currently diverted from the city of Valencia. Select brackish wetlands rich in emergent, halophilic, and submerged aquatic vegetation.