During spring, Centennial Parklands becomes a dynamic stage for birdlife. With a cast of thousands, there are spectacular breeding performances with young chicks making their debut.
Most birds' minds turn to breeding during spring, and the all-year resident, Musk Duck, is no exception. Usually found on deep, fresh water in southwestern and southeastern Australia, the Musk Duck is a dark, freckled, diving duck, with a stiff tail and grey triangular bill. Seldom seen flying and clumsy on land, they are like a duck to water, swimming low and diving underwater to feed on aquatic invertebrates. As territorial birds they dine alone, and will even defend their piece of water against birds much larger than themselves!
The male Musk Duck is renowned for its pendulous lobe under its bill. An integral prop to a colourful courtship display, the male raises its bill, inflates the lobe and arches its tail feathers over its back to attract the female. Holding this dramatic pose, it uses its feet to splash water sideways with a 'plonk' while simultaneously giving a deep grunt and a persistent piercing whistle.
Following a successful courtship, Musk Ducks lay their eggs amongst dense and submerged clumps of reeds. They bend and trample down reeds to make a water-level platform with a shallow bowl, which they line with grass and down. Around and above the nest, they weave a domed hood to form a camouflage and engineering masterpiece.
To see Musk Ducks in the Parklands, look around Busby's Pond, Randwick Pond and Duck Pond If you get the chance to see the male performing his courtship display you will enjoy every minute as Musk Ducks are some of the Parklands' best spring entertainers!