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Freckled Duck Bird Species Information, Diet, Characteristics

Filed under: Bird Species — Tags: — Nik @ 6:36 am

Freckled Duck Bird

The Freckled Duck is a broad-bodied, moderately large duck, which is also referred to as Speckled Duck, Oatmeal Duck, Canvasback or the Diamantina Duck. It has a dark grayish-brown back, with fine speckles in white, off-white, buff or pale brown. Its most identifiable feature is its large head, with a peaked crown, unlike most other ducks which have rounded heads. Its bill is narrow and slightly upturned.  The base of the male duck’s bill becomes crimson during the mating season. During flight, the Freckled Duck beats its wings rapidly and rather clumsily, while holding its head low, thus giving it a hunch-backed look. The Freckled Duck is commonly found in south-western and south-eastern Australia, especially along the Murray-Darling river system and around the Bulloo and Lake Eyre basins. The duck prefers swampy areas created by floods, and along rivers, creeks, reservoirs, lakes and even farm dams and sewage ponds, wherever there is dense growth of vegetation especially lignum, tea-tree or Cumbungi. This allows it good cover and a chance to feed on aquatic grasses and algae, which grow in the water.

During inland droughts, they are forced to travel far until they find a suitable water body. During such times, they travel as far as Victoria and New South Wales. The Freckled Duck generally feeds at dawn, dusk or night. It eats a wide variety of seeds, sedges, algae, aquatic grasses and small invertebrates. They usually feed by wading near the edge and dabbling in the shallow water. Freckled Ducks generally breed from October to December, but if conditions are favorable, they breed at other times too.

Their nests are situated in dense vegetation, near or at water level, and are made by weaving together fine twigs, cushioned with a layer of down. While males remain close to the females during the incubation, it is the female which does the incubation and he rearing of the babies. Freckled Ducks face a threat from humans in many ways:

  • Clearing and draining swamps and wetlands. Dams and irrigation channels change natural course of rivers and their flood patterns.  These changes deprive them of wetlands where they can breed and feed naturally.
  • Besides, much of their wetland habitats are now taken over by grazing cattle, further reducing their living areas. Another major threat is from illegal hooting. In some places such as New South Wales, they are listed as vulnerable and laws have been formulated in respect to shooting of these ducks.