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Pacific Black Duck

Anas superciliosa


Description

The Pacific black duck is a dark brown duck has a buff face possessing two distinctive lines. The most obvious line passes through the eye. The cock bird possess a greenish patch in the wing. The feet range from olive through to a brown/yellow. Birds with bright orange legs assume elements of hybridisation.

Distribution

Pacific Black ducks are a common species occurring in suitable aquatic habitat throughout Australia, generally they are more common in the southern regions. They infrequently visit some arid regions during high rainfall resulting in inundation. They appear to have a preference for more permanent watercourses.

Breeding

Generally seasonal, being winter, spring and early summer, but extended during suitable conditions and may breed all year when suitable conditions prevail. Ideal breeding conditions are during falling water levels after inundation when weed growth is lush and abundant.

Nesting

Significant variation in the location and height of the nest site. Pacific Black ducks may nest at ground level in dense waterside vegetation or in elevated locations. Pacific Black ducks have been observed appropriating a disused Australian Raven’s nest located at 25 metres height in an ironbark tree. Occasionally they nest in flood debris beside waterways or in dense reeds or grasses. They have a noted preference for nesting in spacious tree hollows, often but not necessarily standing in water. Nest hollows are generally unlined reliant on rotted wood dust and small quantities of down.

Eggs

Generally 8 to 10 but as many as 14 oval eggs have been observed. Eggs are creamy white smooth and lustrous. Eggs may become nest stained after wet weather. Pacific Black ducks will readily use artificial nest boxes both in captivity and in the wild.

Diet

Pacific Black duck’s diet is composed predominantly of aquatic vegetation and seeds. They are opportunistic feeders and will eat small aquatic insects, invertebrates and molluscs. In captivity they can be maintained on grain based pelletised food and wet mashes. A range of greens should be included in their diet. Water should always be available for both drinking and bathing.

General

Pacific Black ducks are strong flyers and their housing needs to be appropriate to prevent injury due to impact with overhead netting restraint. Pinioning has been used in the past but such practices are coming under increasing scrutiny. Pacific Black ducks will tame significantly if hand reared and are an attractive waterfowl species. In the wild the pure species is threatened by hybridisation with the English Mallard.

Licencing requirement should be established for the state involved.

Text by John Urane

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