Musk Duck Biziura lobata
Male Musk Duck, Coorong, SA, Australia, March 2006 - click for larger image Australia
March 2006

The Musk Duck is distributed in south-east and south-west Australia. It is found where there are large, permanent swamps and also, outside the breeding season, on the coast or at sea.

Male Musk Duck, Coorong, SA, Australia, March 2006 - click for larger image The dominant feature of this strange duck is the large flap of skin that the male has below its large, dark grey bill. This is used in courtship when the male will expand this bladder and spread its tail feathers in a fan while kicking water behind it. This can attract several females. The male takes no further part in the rearing of the young. During the breeding season the male gives off a very strong musky smell - hence the name.
Female or immature Musk Duck, Coorong, SA, Australia, March 2006 - click for larger image Females and immatures lack this flap of skin as can be seen in photo 3.

These ducks spend almost all their time on the water where they dive for longish periods hunting for insects and their larvae, snails, shellfish, frogs, etc.. Their diving ability is enhanced by the setting of its legs well back in the body which makes it awkward to walk on land.

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