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There are several duck varieties originating from the Land Down Under. Besides Kangaroos and Koalas, Australia is the home of many birds and animals.
Australia is the birthplace of several duck breeds of varying sizes, shapes, and temperaments.
If you are looking to adopt a native Australian duck, we have compiled a list of some noteworthy duck breeds in Australia.
Some of the duck breeds are quite famous, whereas most people have not heard about the others.
Australian Duck Breeds
1. Australian Wood Duck
Endemic to Australia, this dabbling duck is found throughout much of the country.
It has a distinctive dumpy goose-like appearance with a dark brown head and a pale grey body with two black stripes along the back.
It is a sexually dimorphic species, males and females have clear distinctions.
They have different colors and patterns of the underbody and head. These ducks are adapted to survive in a variety of environments.
Therefore, they are found in grasslands, open woodlands, wetlands, flooded pastures, and along the coast.
The Australian Wood Duck thrives on grasses, clover, herbs, and insects. These birds form monogamous breeding pairs and make good parents.
Hardhead and White-Eyed Duck is the only true diving duck breed found in Australia. It has a strange name, not related to the density or hardiness of the duck’s skull.
Mainly found in the wetter, coastal regions of Australia in the south-east, this duck species is widespread in other countries like New Guinea, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands.
Hardheads do not have a larger size, not exceeding 45 cm and these ducks can not fly. They are smaller than most ducks, however, noticeably more rounder. Hardhead has a chocolate brown color with white details and wings.
They are excellent divers with powerful webbed feet, capable of staying submerged for as long as a minute. They survive on small aquatic creatures and water weeds.
3. Australian Shelduck
Known as Chestnut-breasted Shelduck or Mountain Duck, this breed is fairly common in southern Australia and Tasmania.
The rich-chestnut breast with white-ring neck contrast makes it a handsome waterfowl.
Australian Shelduck is a large, brightly colored duck with a tiny head and bill. Thanks to its unique physical characteristics, this breed is unmistakable.
This social waterbird likes to live in large flocks of more than a thousand birds on deep wetlands, grasslands, pasture, or crops.
These male and female rusty brown-black ducks can be easily distinguished as females have white rings around the eyes and bills whereas males have all-black heads.
The majority of the Australian Shelducks are found in southern Australia, living in coastal marshland and surrounding pasture.
4. Australasian Shoveler
This species of dabbling ducks belong to the genus Spatula. It prefers living on wetlands, terrestrial swamps, and lakes.
The Australasian Shoveler is found in southwestern and southeastern Australia, Tasmania, and New Zealand.
These ducks are often associated with other duck species like Chestnut teal but they are often seen sharing flocks with Pink-Eared Ducks.
This low-floating, dark-headed bird has an odd-shaped heavy, square-cut, shovel-tipped bill.
Their bills are designed in a specific manner to filter out tiny treats. These ducks have a black and white feather line.
The male Australasian Shoveler is highly-colored with a blue-gray head and rich chestnut color with white patches.
Owing to the distinct bill, it is also called Spoonbill Duck, Shovelbill, and Blue-winged Shoveler. Being omnivores, it eats insects, crustaceans, and seeds.
5. Chestnut Teal
This dabbling duck is mainly found in south-eastern and south-western Australia. It is bigger and darker than the Grey Teal but has an identical appearance.
Male ducks are more beautiful with metallic green heads, rich chestnut flanks, and red eyes. Female ducks have a plain grey color with a slightly darker neck and throat.
Unlike many other ducks, this Australian duck breed can tolerate highly saline water. Both sexes have deep red eyes with blue-grey bills.
Besides wetlands, this duck species is also found on freshwater lakes, reservoirs, and sewage ponds.
6. Grey Teal
Easily recognizable due to the presence of crimson-colored iris in its eyes, this breed is mostly found in open wetlands in Australia and New Zealand.
The crimson color is more prominent and rich in male adult Grey Teals.
They travel vast distances in search of water and wetlands. When the water dries up, they search tirelessly and may show up at waterholes in the desert.
As the name suggests, it is nearly all-grey brown with red eyes. Immature birds have duller red color whereas adult males have more rich and prominent crimson-colored eyes.
Grey Teal is one of the smallest Australian ducks and is related to Chestnut Teal. This dabbling duck is widespread throughout the range and has a huge population.
7. Musk Duck
This aquatic, stiff-tailed duck is endemic to Southern Australia. It is the strangest-looking Australian Waterfowl but the only living member of the genus Biziura.
It’s name is indicative of the musky odor it emits during the breeding season. Musk ducks are quite common in the southwest corner of Western Australia, Victoria, and Tasmania.
It is characterized by its large, leathery, pendulous lobe of skin which hangs below the bill.
Their stiff tail usually lies flat against the water but becomes erect during the courtship display.
They prefer to stay in the water and are rarely observed on the shore. Seen singly or in pairs, they are primarily found in deep freshwater lagoons with dense reed beds.
They feed on aquatic insects, crustaceans, snails, shellfish, fish, and frogs. It is one of the largest Australian ducks with a powerful build.
8. Wandering Whistling Duck
This is a species of whistling duck, inhabiting tropical and subtropical Australia and other countries.
Wandering Whistling Duck got its name for its loud whistling calls and the whistling noise wings make when flying. Wandering ducks make nests.
At first glance, it looks like a cross between a duck and a goose because of its long necks and legs.
It is characterized by distinct cream-colored flank plumes. This duck has a lower, more curved posture while swimming and standing.
They grow to be 54–60 cm in length and weigh about 750 grams. Their overall diet includes grasses, water lilies, water plants, and aquatic insects.
These ducks live on deep lagoons, flooded grasslands, or dams and are rarely seen on the shore.
9. Freckled Duck
Freckled ducks are endemic to Australia and go by several names like Monkey Ducks or Oatmeal Ducks.
Mainly found in Midland Australia, they migrate to coastal and subcostal wetlands in the dry period.
This duck is famous for the finely-speckled dots scattered over its metallic-gray plumage. They have narrow and slightly curved bills like a ski-jump.
It is the quietest and low-maintenance duck breed with no alarm calls, courtship display, and demonstrative pair bonds. This dark greyish-brown bird is mistaken for Black Pacific and Hardhead.
10. Blue Billed Duck
Blue-Billed is a small Australian stiff-tailed diving duck with a relatively slender dished bill.
Male and female grow to equal size of 40 cm (16 in). Native to Australia’s temperate regions, this species inhabits natural inland wetlands and artificial wetlands.
Their dark stiff pointed feather tips are usually held flat on the water, except during courtship or when alarmed.
Males have rich deep chestnut plumage with light blue bill whereas females have darker plumage and brown bill.
It is nearly wholly aquatic and rarely seen on land, mostly observed on the water on deep wetlands.
This species is seasonally nomadic and moves each year to different places. They feed mostly on aquatic insects.
11. Pink-eared Duck
Zebra-striped plumage, long and shovel-shaped bill, and insignificant spots of pink feathers are some of the recognizable characteristics of this breed.
Found in Australia, its vernacular name is Zebra Duck or Zebra Teal due to the black and white stripes.
Like other waterfowl in Australia, it has a large population and moves around a lot when the climatic conditions are right. Pink-Eared Ducks have an evolved odd-shaped bill for a special purpose.
The duck drinks water through the bill tip and expels through the grooves along the side of the bill to filter out small invertebrates. It is a unique species that can not be mistaken for any other duck.
This duck is widespread but can not be found in the driest regions of Western and South Australia.
The majority of Pink-eared Ducks are found in south-eastern Australia. This species is classified as endangered by the Australian authorities.
The aforementioned duck breeds are inhabiting the wetlands of Australia. These handsome waterfowls are known for their unique physical and behavioral attributes.