Did you know 80% of Victorians can’t name a single native duck species?
Ducks are abundant in all parts of Victoria and provide a great opportunity to explore your local wildlife. So, here are seven facts you never knew about ducks. We bet they are much more interesting than you might think!
Once a year, the Australian Shelduck can’t fly
Most birds progressively replace their feathers once or twice a year during a process called ‘moulting’.
Unluckily for Australian Shelducks, they lose all their primary feathers at once, rendering them flightless for 20-40 days. They utilise their terrific swimming skills to keep themselves safe from predators during this time.
Grey Teal ducks fly overseas just to start a family
The Grey Teal flies extraordinary distances in search of rainfall and suitable places to breed. They have been known to cross international borders to Indonesia, New Guinea and New Zealand in search of the perfect wet season.
If conditions are not suitable the Grey Teal may not breed at all, waiting until the next year when the food and waterways are to their liking.
Australian Wood Ducks will nest in trees
You might not consider ducks to be tree-dwellers but the top of a tree is one of the Australian Wood Ducks favourite places to be. Adult ducks will build the perfect nest out of wood chips in hollowed out trees and lay their eggs.
Soon after they hatch, ducklings face the challenge of jumping from their tree top homes to find their parents. It’s a long way down for the ducklings, so Mum and Dad will usually provide encouragement from the sidelines.
Pacific Black Ducks are fully waterproof
This duck breed you will be most familiar with. They spend much of their time in suburban creeks, ponds and waterways and are friendly, sociable ducks.
Amongst their brown feathers is a hidden gem. A brilliant, glossy aqua patch that glistens in the sun. This brilliant glow is heightened by an oil produced by a gland at the base of their tail that makes them fully waterproof!
Pink-eared ducks have square beaks
Pink-eared ducks are one of the most unique duck species in Australia. Their stripy, zebra-like feathers stand out a mile away.
They are the only duck to have square beaks, which are tipped with leathery fringed grooves that help filter out microscopic plants and animals.
Blue-billed ducks can run on water
These ducks are most confident in the water and are excellent swimmers. If forced to fly, they will take off a gradual pace and fly almost horizontally against the water’s surface.
For the first few paces their webbed feet stay low, making them look as if they are running on water
Australia has two whistling duck species
The Plumed Whistling Duck and the Wandering Whistling Duck make pleasant whistling sounds that could be easily mistaken for a budgie! One duck will often start a chorus of high pitched chirps, meaning you will likely hear this species of duck well before you see them.
To find out more about Victoria’s beautiful and unique ducks, explore Discover Ducks.