A yapping Pink-eared Duck

Also called a zebra duck, the Pink-eared Duck is a beautiful bird that sits low in the water, filter feeds with its distinctive bill, flies and gathers in very large flocks and yaps or whistles when disturbed or in flight. An added bonus are bright pink ear coverts made up of 9 pink feathers  – this pink patch becomes more pronounced and colourful as the bird matures.   The ones I watched seemed to have a light pink patch rather than the full dark pink so maybe they were testing each other in a youthful gathering. The duck are thought to mate for life. I often see many in huge flocks (10,000s+) at the pooh farm. There were 50+ at Jawbone on the weekend and due to the width of the lagoons I managed to get fairly close without spooking them too much – a very difficult thing to do at the pooh farm where they spook much more easily due to the number of raptors cruising for a meal. We noticed that as they yapped  they lifted their head as part of the display, making the fleshy part of the bill more visible. It is a very odd but beautiful duck – one of my favourites. (post edited after a bit more research and ref checking – see comments below)

Pink-eared Duck, Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve, Williamstown

Pink-eared Duck, Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve, Williamstown

Pink-eared Duck, Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve, Williamstown

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5 responses to “A yapping Pink-eared Duck

  1. Lovely photos and info on this beautiful duck Malt, though I tend not to agree with some of the guide entries on the pink ear being exclusively male, most experts do not state this, and my own findings conclude that it is present in both sexes but may be absent in the immature and juvenile. I have noticed that the pink patch is significantly reduced and much smaller in the female, and this may be why you thought there were no females present.

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    • Thanks for the comments Ashley, I got the info on the pink patch from the Birdlife web so I have asked them for comment. I have not been able to find any other reference to telling the sexes of the ducks apart via the pink mark. I have looked at HANZAB and the only way to tell the difference is via the cloaca if one is experienced enough to tell. The research in HANZAB is a few decades old but something like that would be noticeable in the field. Thanks for the new research project. I will let know how the Birdlife team respond.

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