Pink-eared Ducks are special looking ducks that enchant amateur and avid birdwatchers alike. Their whimsical feathers and flute-like beak make for an exotic look that truly stands out from the crowd.
A duck of many nicknames
Unsurprisingly, the name ‘Pink-eared Duck’ refers to the splash of pink feathers found on the side of their head.
They are also affectionately referred to as ‘Zebra Ducks’ or ‘Clown Ducks’ because Pink-eared Ducks are most easily identified by the black and white stripes that wind around the chest and underside of both male and females. They also have curious, square shaped beaks that add to their unique appearance.
Pink-eared Ducks are super social and like to spend time with their buddies in large flocks.
Like the Australian Wood Duck, they are monogamous and form life-long bonds with their chosen mate, rarely leaving each other’s side.
Male ducks, also known as drakes, will court their ladies by plunging their heads below water and emerging gracefully in a display of diving prowess to woo their chosen mate. After building a little family of ducklings, mum and dad will work together to raise their young and show them the ways of the world.
Dancing for their dinner
While out discovering ducks, you might spot two Pink-eared Ducks whirring around each other, almost as if they are dancing. This is a clever little trick they use to help attract the microscopic plants and animals that make up the bulk of their diet.
With the precision of a pair of Olympic-grade synchronised swimmers, male and females spin around each other in a vortexing motion, surfing their bills under water to feed on the tasty treats caught in the whirlpool beneath them. Their square shaped bills are tipped with leathery fringed grooves that help filter out food.
Hidden in plain sight
These ducks aren’t hard to spot… if you know where to look. Despite their unique appearance, this duck species is a little more elusive to find than you might think. To see these ducks, consider exploring shallow, open waters in regional Victoria, such as in Bendigo and Lake Corangamite.
Once near a flock of Pink-eared Ducks, there’s no missing them! Just keep an eye out for their zebra striped feathers, small bodies and large bills.