Kingdoms / Animalia / Craniata / Aves / Anseriformes / Anatidae / Aythya / Species
< >  Aythya australis - Hardhead (Click photographs/illustrations: full picture & further details)

INFORMATION AVAILABLE

GENERAL & REFERENCES

EXTERNAL APPEARANCES

REPRODUCTION

BEHAVIOUR

NATURAL DIET

RANGE & HABITAT

CONSERVATION

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General and References

Alternative Names (Synonyms)

Australian hardhead
Australian pochard
Australian white-eye
Australasian white-eye
White-eye
White-eyed duck
Brownhead
Copperhead
Tasmanmoorente (German)
Australische Moorente (German)
Fuligule austral (French)
Milouin d’Australie (French)
Porrón Australiano (Spanish)
Pato ojos blancos de Australia (Spanish)
Aythya australis australis
- Australian white-eye
Aythya australis extima - Banks Island white-eye

Names for newly-hatched

Duckling, downy.

Names for non-breeding males or other colour-phases

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References

Species Author

Debra Bourne

Major References

B1, B3, B6, B7, B8, B19, B25, B26.

Aviculture references:
B29, B30, B40, B94, B128.w1, B139
D1, D8

Other References

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TAXA Group (where information has been collated for an entire group on a modular basis)

Parent Group

Specific Needs Group referenced in Management Techniques

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Aviculture Information

Notes

General information:
  • Pochards are diving ducks which spend most of their time on water, and are ungainly on land. They are generally hardy, sociable and easy to maintain in captivity. They should be kept with deep water available for diving, three to seven feet suggested (B29), or at least half the area 60cm and preferably one metre deep (D1), with shallow sloping banks for easy exit from the water, also islands, good marginal vegetation and loafing areas. Water providing a good supply of natural animal and vegetable food is preferred.
  • These ducks may be kept in mixed collections with dabbling ducks, including smaller species such as teal. They should be fed wheat in water, encouraging their natural diving behaviour. Pellets should also be fed. They may breed better if a group rather than single pair kept, as this allows their normal group displaying activity.
  • 12x12x14 inch (30x30x35cm) nest box with 5 inch (12.5cm) entrance hole suggested, placed under cover at the edge of the pond (B128.w1).

(B29, B40, B94, B128.w1, D1)

Species-specific information:

  • Hardheads are sociable and easy to keep in mixed collections or in groups on large water areas with good marginal vegetation and shallow banks.
  • They breed fairly readily (B29), using close ground cover (e.g. reeds, grass) or a ground level nest box or hollow log. Well-vegetated islands are prefered for nesting .Eggs are usually laid April to June (northern hemisphere); July to March peaking September to December in Australian collections. May be parent hatched and reared;parents are very attentive and survival is reported to be high in Australian collections (B139). May also be artificially incubated and hand reared, fostered under broody hens or fostered under Anas castanea - Chestnut teal..
  • Starter crumbs plus green food and small live food is suggested.
  • They may hybridise with similar species, particularly Aythya novaeseelandiae - New Zealand scaup - should not be kept together.

(B29, B30, B94, B139).

Aviornis UK Ringing Scheme suggested average closed ring size: L 11.0mm (D8).

Management Techniques

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External Appearance (Morphology)

Measurement & Weight

Length 18 inches, 46cm (B3); 46-49cm (B1).
Adult weight General 525-1100g (B1).
Male 525-1100g average 902g (B3); A. a. australis mean 2.0 lbs. (B8).
Female 530-1060g average 838g (B3); A. a. australis mean 1.8 lbs. (B8).
Newly-hatched weight --
Growth rate --

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Head

Adult Bill Male Grey with wide, grey-blue subterminal band, black nail (B6, B26)
Variations (If present) Grey with narrow whitish subterminal band (B26)
Eyes (Iris) Male --
Variations(If present) --
Juvenile Bill Grey with narrow whitish subterminal band (B26)
Eyes (Iris) Brown (B6).

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Legs

Adult Male Grey (B6).
Variations (If present) --
Juvenile Grey (B6).

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Plumage

Adult Male Head, neck, body generally dark chestnut brown, upperparts darker, flanks feathers faintly buff-edged, abdomen usually whitish, sometimes mottled brown, undertail coverts white. Wing coverts dark reddish-brown, primaries and secondaries mostly white with brown tips and brown outer primaries (B3, B6, B8, B25, B26).
Variations (If present) Female:- paler, browner, duller, throat pale/mottled (B1, B3, B6, B25, B26).

Aythya australis extima:- head and throat may be more black-brown (B8).

Juvenile Similar to female; paler, browner, duller; abdomen mottled with brown (B1, B3, B6, B25, B26).

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Newly-hatched Characteristics

General: Upperparts brown with yellowish markings on wings, sides and back, underparts and face yellowish (B1, B6, B7).
Bill: Grey (B6, B7).
Feet: Grey (B6, B7).

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Reproduction

Reproductive Season

Time of year Variable and irregular: when water levels highest (B1, B6, B8). October to November in south-western Australia, September to December, New South Wales, April and May Northern Australia (B3).
No. of Clutches --

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Nest placement and structure

In reeds near or over water, a platform woven from reeds, sedges, other vegetation, some downy lining (B1, B3, B6, B8, B26).

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Egg clutches

No. of Eggs Average 9-12 (B3); 9-13 (B8).
Range 6-18 (B8).
Egg Description Cream-white (B3, B8); size: 54x42mm; weight: 60g (B3).

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Incubation

25 days (B1, B3, B8).

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Hatching

Synchronous.

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Fledging

50-65 days (B8).

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Sexual Maturity

Males --
Females --

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Behaviour

Feeding Behaviour

Adults Dive, head-dip, up-end and dabble (B1, B3, B8, B25, B26).
Newly-hatched --

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Parental Behaviour

Nest-building --
Incubation By female (B3).
Newly-hatched Tended by female (B3).
Juveniles

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Social Behaviour

Intra-specific Sociable, found in small groups or larger flocks (thousands) (B8, B25).
Inter-specific Sometimes feed with Anas superciliosa - Pacific black ducks, Cygnus atratus - black swans, Australian pelicans (B8).

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Sexual Behaviour

Pairs form rapidly when rising water triggers breeding (B8, B25)

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Predation in Wild

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Activity Patterns

Loaf on banks and may sometimes roost on banks, stumps, low branches (B8).
Circadian --

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Natural Diet

Adults

Mainly vegetarian: seeds, flowers, green parts grasses, sedges, aquatic plants; also (up to 10% of diet) aquatic invertebrates (insects and their larvae, mussels, crustaceans) and small fish (B1, B3, B26).

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Newly-hatched

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Range and Habitat

Distribution and Movement (Migration etc.)

Normal

South-western and eastern Australia locally in New Guinea, isolated population in New Hebrides (Banks Island), probably also Vanuatu and New Caledonia.

Wanders in dry season, particularly in droughts: all over Australia, Tasmania, reaching New Zealand, Auckland Islands, Java, Sulawesi, New Guinea, New Caladonia (B1, B19).

Occasional and Accidental

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Introduced

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Habitat

Swamps, marshes, deep permanent lakes and ponds with abundant emergent vegetation (B1, B8, B19).

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Conservation

Intraspecific variation

Aythya australis australis - Australian white-eye
Aythya australis extima - Banks Island white-eye

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Conservation Status

Wild Population -
(Importance)

Not globally threatened, but declining (B1, B25).

CITES listing --
Red-data book listing --
Threats Habitat loss (drainage of marshes and swamps) (B1, B8, B25, B26).

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Captive Populations

Maintained for generations in captivity (B8); relatively popular in Australian collections B139.

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Trade

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