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Native Ducks

We couldn't squeeze everything into our Native Ducks fact sheet. Here is some additional interesting information.

Individual species sizes:

Chestnut Teal - The size ranges from 35-50cm, the wingspan from 62-70cm, and weight is 560-920g (average 680g male, 590g female).

Grey Teal - Their size ranges from 40-44cm, the wingspan range is 62-72cm, and the weight varies from 400-690g (average 500g male, 430g female).

Pacific Black Duck - Their size varies from 50-60cm, the wingspan from 82-93cm, and the weight from 870-1400g (average 1090g male, 1000g female).

Wood Duck - In size they range from 44-50cm, have a wingspan 76-85cm, and weigh 700-960g (average 815g male, 800g female).

Mountain Duck - They range in size from 56-72cm, with wingspan 96-132cm, and weigh between 990-1980g (average 1550g male, 1300g female).

Breeding and Nesting

Grey Teal - Grey Teal are quite opportunistic in their breeding habits, using flooding and rising water to trigger rapid breeding activity. The timing therefore varies, and they may breed twice, even three times a year, or not at all. They choose a suitable nest site, often distant from water. The down-lined nest may be in a hollow limb of a dead tree, a hollow in the ground, within flood debris, logs or bushes, or within the nest of another species. Clutch size is 6-14 eggs, sometimes more. Young are lead to water shortly after hatching. Males tend to desert soon after and show no interest in the young.

Chestnut Teal - Chestnut Teal tend to breed in spring, not dependent on rising waters, and they will choose almost anywhere near water, preferring rocky islands if available. The nest is well-hidden in a tree hollow, on the ground among dense vegetation, or among rocks or flood debris, and liberally lined with soft down, and close to the water's edge. Clutch size is typically 5-17 eggs, or more. Leave nest within a day of hatching, and by then are able to walk and swim. They breed once or twice a year depending on suitability. Chestnut Teal males are considered more attentive than Grey Teal, generally staying with female to raise young and defend against predators.

Pacific Black Duck - Pacific Black Ducks will breed in early spring, timed with seasonal flushes of food to raise their fast-growing young, preferring to situate themselves near permanent water. The nest is a down-lined tree hollow, or grass cup in reeds or grass. Clutch size range 7-14, maybe more or less. Female and ducklings leave the nest site once dry from hatching, usually early morning.

Wood Duck - Wood Duck breeding is stimulated by rains producing new growth, typically in spring..Their nest site is often a tree hollow in a live tree (dead trees rarely being chosen) usually close to, but sometimes far from, water. Clutch size 8-11 eggs, up to 18. Ducklings led to water soon after birth.

Mountain Duck - From their congregations during moulting, Mountain Ducks disperse widely to breed on suitable lakes, rivers and marshes, both inland and on islands, though most stay on saline wetlands near the coast. They nest in spring, establishing a 'brood territory' and defending it fiercely against others of its species, sometimes using the same nest year after year. Nests can be as high as 20 metres above ground, and may be several kilometres from the brood territory. Females incubate eggs while males defend the territory. Clutches of 10-14 are common, up to 20 or more. At two days ducklings are lead to the brood territory.

Breeding success varies widely. Around three quarters of eggs may hatch. In leading ducklings to water, many may perish due to exhaustion, exposure or predation. Once at water, most will survive to fledging (growth of flight feathers), though possibly by then there may be less than half the number hatched.

At mating time female Mountain Ducks take the lead, trying to attract males by repeated head-dipping, water thrashing and mock chasing.

Moulting

For Mountain Ducks and Wood Ducks this typically occurs around February / March. In Pacific Black Ducks the timing is less clear as they tend to moult year round according to the time of breeding, with a peak during the summer months. For Grey Teal this occurs February to May, while in Chestnut Teal it is typically April to May.

During the second moult, Mountain Ducks will tend to congregate in large numbers, usually on large salt lakes near the ocean. As many as 10,000 may gather. This starts around October with the loss of body and tail feathers. Wing feathers are lost about 90 days later. For about 26 days they are unable to fly while wing feathers regrow. The time of this full moult can be as long as 150 days.

Wood Ducks undergo a complete moult around late spring, though this is seasonally influenced, and some may skip moulting in extreme drought. Pacific Black Ducks begin to replace worn wing and body feathers around October and may not complete the moult until March.

Grey Teal may have a complete moult from September to December or it can be delayed until later summer. Chestnut Teal tend to have a complete post-breeding moult in January / February. Typically the eclipse plumage is only attained by breeding males. Non-breeding males will moult but may not undergo eclipse.

Calls

The calls of these five species vary widely. The call of the Mountain Duck is a loud honking, being deeper and more grunted in the male, and higher and more resonant in the female. The call of the female Wood Duck is a long, loud, rising “gnow?”, while that of the male is shorter and higher in pitch. With Pacific Black Ducks, the vocal female makes a raucous descending “quark, quark, quark”, while the quieter male calls with a soft, quick “raab, raabraab” or a hoarse, whispered “fraank, fraank”. The female Grey Teal has a loud, very abrupt “quack” in a series of 15 or more, while the male gives a mute, excited “pip!”. The vocal female Chestnut Teal has a loud, very abrupt “quack” much like Grey Teal but a little higher pitched, while the male makes the same “pip” sound as the Grey Teal, only slightly deeper. For audio clips of the individual species, go to our links page.


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