Australian Wood Duck

Did you know?

Like other waterbirds, the Australian Wood Duck hatches with a covering of waterproof down and can enter the water almost straight away.

Calls
Females have long, loud, rising: 'gnow?' while male calls are shorter and higher pitched. Flocks chatter when feeding.
Facts and Figures
Research Species: 
No
Minimum Size: 
44cm
Maximum Size: 
50cm
Average size: 
47cm
Breeding season: 
September to November in the south; after rain in the north.
Clutch Size: 
8 to 10 eggs
Incubation: 
28 days
Nestling Period: 
57 days
Basic Information
Scientific Name: 
Featured bird groups: 
Atlas Number: 
202
What does it look like?
Description: 

The Australian Wood Duck is a medium-sized 'goose-like' duck with a dark brown head and a pale grey body with two black stripes along the back. Males have the darker head and a small dark mane, with a speckled brown-grey breast and a black lower belly and undertail. The females have a paler head with two white stripes, above and below the eye, a speckled breast and flanks, with a white lower belly and undertail. In flight, the wings are pale grey above, contrasting with black wingtips, and have a noticeable white bar on the underside (the secondaries). They walk easily on land and may be seen perching on logs and in trees. They will only take to open water when disturbed. This species is also known as the Maned Duck or the Maned Goose.

Similar species: 

The Australian Wood Duck can be distinguished from pygmy geese,Nettapus spp, which are smaller, have bold white face markings and are usually seen on water. Whistling ducks, Dendrocygna spp, have longer legs and necks, larger more duck-like bills and tend to walk more upright. When flying, the Australian Wood Duck is the only duck with white secondary feathers and dark wingtips.

Where does it live?
Distribution: 

The Australian Wood Duck is widespread in Australia, including Tasmania.

Habitat: 

The Australian Wood Duck is found in grasslands, open woodlands, wetlands, flooded pastures and along the coast in inlets and bays. It is also common on farmland with dams, as well as around rice fields, sewage ponds and in urban parks. It will often be found around deeper lakes that may be unsuitable for other waterbirds' foraging, as it prefers to forage on land.

What does it do?
Feeding: 

The Australian Wood Duck eats grasses, clover and other herbs, and occasionally, insects. It is rarely seen on open water, preferring to forage by dabbling in shallow water, or in grasslands and crops.

Breeding: 

The Australian Wood Duck forms monogamous breeding pairs that stay together year round. It nests in tree holes, above or near water, often re-using the same site. Both parents feed young and young birds remain with them up to a month after fledging.

Living with us

The Australian Wood Duck has benefited from the creation of dams and irrigated crops on farmlands. It can sometimes damage crops and pastures.

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