A rare and local bird, previously more abundant, now scarce due to loss of freshwater marshes and lagoons. Found in Africa, Asia and in South America from Eastern Panamá (Chocó rivers) south into Argentina. American birds have been regarded as a separate species (S. sylvicola – South American Comb Duck) by some authors.

Very shy, does not allow close approach. Found usually alone or in pairs, feeding with other ducks and aquatic birds.

Can be seen with some luck at sandbars and flooded rice fields near Cartago (Cauca Valley).