Ducks, Geese & Swans

Anatidae

Within Australia, there are 28 members in this group of fully web-footed waterfowl, including nine endemics, the Blue-billed Duck Oxyura australis, Pink-eared Duck Malacorhynchus membranaceus, Cape Barren Goose Cereopsis novaehollandiae, Black Swan Cygnus atratus, Australian Shelduck Tadorna tadornoides, Chestnut Teal Anas castanea, Freckled Duck Stictonetta naevosa, Musk Duck Biziura lobata and the Australian Wood Duck Chenonetta jubata. The Northern Mallard A. platyrhynchos is introduced and both the Mute Swan Cygnus olor and the Canada Goose Branta canadensis are self-introduced vagrants from populations occurring in New Zealand. Of the 19 other species, 13 are non-endemic breeding residents, while the remaining six have been recorded as vagrants.

Species such as the Musk Duck, Blue-billed Duck, Hardhead, Green Pygmy-goose and Wandering Whistling-Duck, obtain some food by diving below the surface of the water.  The Plumed Whistling-Duck, Australian Wood Duck, Australian Shelduck, Radjah Shelduck and vagrant Paradise Shelduck are seldom seen in the water, preferring to wade through the shallows or graze in grasslands.  The Australian Shoveler, Northern Shoveler and Pink-eared Duck have specialist bills that they use to filter through the water for microscopic aquatic animals and plants.  The remaining species follow the more traditional method of upending in the water and feeding on a variety of plants and animals from the bottom of their shallow wetland homes.

Australian Wood Duck

Australian Wood Duck

What does it look and sound like?  The Australian Wood Duck is identified by its brown head, grey and black back and wings, and speckled underparts. The male is larger and has a black mane, while the female has two pale lines passing through the eye. The bill is short and blackish. The call of the female is a drawn-out nasal 'gnew'; that of the male is shorter and higher pitched. Where does it ...
Black Swan

Black Swan

What does it look like?  The only black swan found anywhere in the world, all other species being almost entirely white, except for one South American species that has a black neck. In flight the neck is held outstretched and the broad white wing tips contrast the otherwise black body. The bill of the adults is deep orange-red with a distinct narrow white band and paler white nail at the tip of the ...
Cape Barren Goose

Cape Barren Goose

What does it look like? The Cape Barren Goose is an unmistakable large pale grey goose with bright yellowish cere and dark pink legs. Both sexes are similar and younger birds have an all grey bill and bluish-grey legs. Where does it live? Today the species is widespread throughout southern Australia, but in the 1950s it was considered to be close to extinction, and are still one of the world’s r...
Musk Duck

Musk Duck

What does it look and sound like?  The male Musk Duck also has an unfortunate reputation of being perhaps the most grotesque looking of all of Australia’s birds, due to a large fleshy lobe that hangs under its bill. Both sexes are sooty-brown, paler below and becoming whiter towards the abdomen. It is usually silent outside of the breeding season. Where does it live?  Sound throughout south-eastern Aus...
Wandering Whistling-Duck

Wandering Whistling-Duck

What does it look like? The Whistling-Duck plumage is generally dark, brown on the back, rear of neck and top of head, and chestnut-brown on the belly, with conspicuous white feathers along the side of the body and base of tail. Where does it live? Found throughout northern Australia, from around Carnarvon, Western Australia, to southern New South Wales. Breeding range more confined to north and ...