Kingdoms / Animalia / Craniata / Aves / Anseriformes / Anatidae / Biziura / Species
< >  Biziura lobata - Musk Duck (Click photographs/illustrations: full picture & further details)
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General and References

Alternative Names (Synonyms)

Lobed duck
Lappenente (German)
Erismature à barbillons (French)
Canard mosqué (French)
Malvasía de Papada (Spanish)
Pato almízclero de Australia (Spanish)

Names for newly-hatched

Duckling, downy.

Names for non-breeding males or other colour-phases


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Species Author

Debra Bourne

Major References

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

Aviculture references:
B29, B30, B94, B40, B97, 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


General information:
  • Stiff-tails are generally hardy. They are extremely aquatic and do best on large ponds of variable depth, with clean, deep water and plenty of natural food available in the form of marginal aquatic plants, while a muddy pond bottom will provide food items such as tubifex worms. Duckweed and small-sized seeds such as millet and canary seed mixtures are preferred to conventional waterfowl feeds, although wheat and pellets will be taken if natural food is scarce, for example in hard winter weather. Ample marginal vegetation (e.g. rushes, sedge, juncus reed) should be available for general cover and for nesting, with nesting rafts also provided.
  • Most species (not Musk ducks) are sociable and do best in groups rather than as a single pair; males will fight, but usually for only a short period, some degree of pursuit and rape of ducks is also likely. They can be very aggressive in nest site defence, therefore in mixed collections they should be kept on a water area sufficiently large for other ducks to escape.
  • Stiff-tail ducklings should preferably be reared with access to water from e.g. two days old, with sufficient depth for diving provided even at an early age, although enforced drying off periods between short swims may be advisable initially. Duckweed is a useful starter food for these species, although attached daphnia and water snails may carry parasites.

(J23.13.w8, B29, B30, B40, B94).

Species-specific information:

  • Musk ducks are very aggressive; large males may occasionally kill and eat ducklings or even very small teal. They require a seperate pen and should be kept on a large area (e.g. 800-1000 square metres or larger) of deep water with plentiful natural vegetation and associated natural aquatic animal life.
  • To reduce the risk of trauma to the female from agression by the male a pair may be kept in a divided pen, with a small-sized pop-hole in the connecting fence through which the female (smaller) may escape and the male (larger) not be able to follow.
  • May be fed grain, pellets and green food, with added animal food provided (e.g. diced liver, whitebait, crayfish, chopped prawns, mealworms).
  • This species is rarely bred in captivity. Breeding has been reported May to September in Australian collections They nest in close natural cover such as bulrushes, reeds or bankside vegetationand may also use rafts.
  • Rearing on water is suggested as with stiff-tailed ducks, and the ducklings should be reared seperately as even young ducklings will fight with each other if kept together. Ducklings will eat food dropped onto the water (particularly e.g. mealworms, crickets, finely chopped liver) or hand fed, but it takes time before they will eat from a dish. Consumption of starter crumbs may be encouraged by sprinkling animal food items onto the crumbs.

(J23.13.w7, B29, B30, B97, B139, N1.86.w1, V.w12, D1).

Aviornis UK Ringing Scheme recommended average closed ring size:K 10.0mm (D8).

Management Techniques

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External Appearance (Morphology)

Measurement & Weight

Length 24-29" 61-73cm (B3); male 66cm, female 55cm (B1)
Adult weight General. --
Male 1811-3120g, average 2398g (B3); 1811-3120g (B1); 4.0-6.9 (mean 5.3) lbs. (B8)
Female 993-1844g, average 1551g (B3); 993-1844g (B1); 2.0-4.1 (mean 3.5) lbs. (B8)
Newly-hatched weight --
Growth rate --

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Adult Bill Male Black, stout. Large fleshy lobe from ventral bill.
Variations (If present) Female has very small inconspicuous lobe.
Eyes (Iris) Male Brown.
Variations(If present) --
Juvenile Bill Black, stout. but yellowish terminally on underside.
Eyes (Iris) Brown.

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Adult Male Blackish-grey
Variations (If present) --
Juvenile Blackish-grey

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Adult Male Head and body dark brown-black with fine buff barring, except central abdomen whitish. Tail and flight feathers black.
Variations (If present) --
Juvenile As adult. Head and body dark brown-black with fine buff barring, except central abdomen whitish. Black tail and flight feathers.

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Newly-hatched Characteristics

General: Upperparts black, underparts whitish.
Bill: Blackish-grey with bright yellow-orange lower mandible.
Feet: Blackish-grey.

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Reproductive Season

Time of year Mainly begin September to October, but varies (June to December) depending on water levels.
No. of Clutches --

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Nest placement and structure

In thick vegetation, a rough cup-type structure made from stems.

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Egg clutches

No. of Eggs Average 2-3 (B1)
Range 1-10 (B3). 1-3 (B8). Larger numbers indicate dump-nesting.
Egg Description Light buff or pale greenish-white. Size: 79 x 54mm. Weight: 128g.

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24 days (B1); 24-26 days (B8).

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90-144 days (B8)

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Sexual Maturity

Males May be three years.
Females Usually two years.

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Feeding Behaviour

Adults Dive in deep water to feed.
Newly-hatched --

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Parental Behaviour

Nest-building Solitary nests.
Incubation By female alone.
Newly-hatched Cared for by female, who provides food from her bill. Ducklings sometimes ride on the mother's back and are highly dependent on the mother for food.

May be fed until fledging. Often only one survives.

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Social Behaviour

Intra-specific Aggressive.
Inter-specific --

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Sexual Behaviour

Males are promiscuous and polygamous. Dominant drakes display in territories.

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Predation in Wild


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Activity Patterns

Almost exclusively aquatic.
Circadian Mainly diurnal feeding.

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Natural Diet


Predominantly carnivorous. Aquatic invertebrates (insects, crustaceans, molluscs, arachnids), amphibians, fish, even small ducklings (e.g. Anas castanea - Chestnut teal), also seeds.

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Range and Habitat

Distribution and Movement (Migration etc.)


Western and south-eastern Australia, Tasmania and Kangaroo Island.

Not migratory but move depending on habitat and water levels.

Occasional and Accidental

Vagrants further north in Australia than usual.



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Shallow freshwater lakes, swamps and marshes with heavy emergent vegetation. Deeper lakes, estuaries, coasts and offshore out of breeding season.

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Intraspecific variation


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Conservation Status

Wild Population -

Widespread and not globally threatened.

CITES listing --
Red-data book listing --
Threats Drown in fishing nets.

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Captive Populations

Are bred in captivity, but are not popular.

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