Australian Wood Duck
The male and female Australian Wood Duck can be told apart by their different markings. The male (pictured) has a chestnut head with a small black mane and a mainly grey body with a speckled breast. Females have a pale brown head with a pale white stripe above and below the eye and a speckled underbelly.
Both sexes have a small black bill with serrated cutting edges for grazing grass. The two black stripes along the back are quite distinctive to this species. With their short bills, longish necks and legs they look a bit like a small goose. In flight their wings are mainly grey with black tips and distinctive white trailing edges.
On land they feed on grass in open grasslands and town parks, and on water they dabble in shallow water. This involves upending themselves on top of the water and searching for aquatic plants under water with their long necks. During the day they can spend much time resting near water or perched in trees. They can also be found in pastures, open woodland, farm dams, sewerage ponds and lakes.
They nest in November in tree hollows, preferably over water and often quite high off the ground. The nesting hollow is large and well lined with down in which they lay their large clutch of eggs. A clutch can consist of 8 to 14 eggs that both sexes incubate for about a month.
Not long after the chicks hatch they jump from the hollow and are led by the adults to the safety of nearby water. The downy chicks follow the adult birds around the pastures and learn from them.
You can find these handsome ducks grazing on the grass, or resting near the ponds in the Parklands.