Saturday, 2 April 2016

Australian Wood Duck

The Wood Duck is a well known and common Australian duck which has done well as a result of human development both in agricultural lands and in urban settings, especially around parklands, golf courses and so on where water is present in the form of farm dams or urban ponds.

Wood Duck are vegetarian grazers, mostly feeding by night on grassed areas and resting by day near water, particular on dam banks or in urban parks near water, where they are relatively visible to us. They can also be found on water and will upend in shallow water to graze on submerged aquatic vegetation. As a result of being common and familiar I suspect this duck is to some extent subconsciously down graded in value and their beauty overlooked.

In the wild, like all other ducks, Woodies are shy and hard to approach, however in urban settings they can become quite tame and accordingly very approachable. We camped in the foreshore caravan park at Mallacoota for a few days just before Easter where a party of seven Wood Ducks shared our camp area each day.

On our last day the antics of our fellow campers finally moved me to get the camera out and take a few photos of the Wood Ducks at close range from a camp chair by the van.

Click on photos to enlarge.

Male Australian Wood Duck

Typical sleeping position (of all ducks and many other bird species) standing on one leg with bill buried in the back feathers.
Young male Wood Duck still showing some light feathers about the head and around the eye

Sleeping/resting was interrupted by preening sessions.

Female Wood Duck

Female Wood Duck – note the white lines/stripes above and below the eye.

The Wood Duck is also called a Maned Duck or Goose due to their similar appearance to a small goose – however they are definitely ducks and not geese. This alternative name comes from the black mane on the nape of male Wood Ducks.

Another view of the mane which was erected when two males had a brief encounter which looked like a squabble or assertion of dominance perhaps.

Until this session with the Woodies I had not noticed the mane which is usually held in and therefore not apparent, especially at long range.

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