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Hardhead Duck


Hardhead Duck


Aythya australis


On many of the ponds in Centennial Parklands you will see a handsome all-brown duck called a hardhead. They are also known as white-eyed ducks and are Australia’s only representative of true diving ducks.

The male is a rich dark brown with white eyes. They have a large high-crowned head.

The bill is black with a blue-white bar across the tip. The female is paler brown and has a brown eye. This makes it easy to tell the sexes apart. They have a white undertail and a white belly.

Their flight is swift and direct with rapid wing beats. They show a white underwing while flying.

In water they have a low profile and use their webbed feet to swim. They are a diving duck and dive smoothly underwater to find their food and emerge swimming. The male gives a soft wheezy whistle and the female a loud harsh rattle.

Hardheads prefer large deep lakes or permanent wetlands with abundant aquatic vegetation, smaller creeks, flooded crops, farm dams and ornamental lakes. They will gather in rafts of thousands when conditions are good.

Breeding is influenced by rainfall but usually takes place from August to November. The nest is a slightly hollow platform of trampled reeds above water level. It is usually placed in very dense reeds or other thick vegetation and is thickly lined with down and can be hidden by a canopy of reeds. The female incubates the clutch of 9 to 13 eggs for about 30 days.

There are many hardheads on the various lakes and ponds in the Parklands. They can be seen in Duck Pond amongst the other ducks. With their distinctive brown bodies and the male’s striking white eyes they should be easy to find.

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