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Pink-eared Duck

(Malacorhynchus membranaceus)
Alternate name(s): "Zebra Duck", "Pink-eyed Duck", "Widgeon", "Whistling Teal"
Aboriginal name(s): "wilidhubaay" [yuwaalaraay, yuwaalayaay]; "wimbin" (WA)

Size: 38-45 cm; wing span 58-72 cm
Weight: 375 g (average)
Description     Classification     Distribution     Sightings     Photos     Breeding     Nest     Eggs     Behaviour     Food     Call/s

Physical description

Click here for a physical description

Taxonomy, classification

See Pink-eared Duck at Wikipedia .

Range, habitat, finding this species

Click here for information on habitat and range


Click here for sighting information



Near-frontal and lateral view of a pair of Pink-eared Ducks
[Whittaker's Lagoon, near Moree, NSW, June 2012]

Lateral view of a Pink-eared Duck
[Tiger Bay Wetlands, Warren, NSW, December 2016]

Lateral and dorsal view of two Pink-eared Ducks
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, April 2016]

The high-resolution version of this near-dorsal view of a Pink-eared Duck clearly shows the sieve on the side of its bill that enables the typical filter-feeding (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Eric Singleton Bird Sanctuary, Bayswater, Perth, WA, November 2015]

Near-dorsal view of a preening Pink-eared Duck (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Eric Singleton Bird Sanctuary, Bayswater, Perth, WA, November 2015]

Dorsal view of a Pink-eared Duck, with the characteristic pink spot clearly visible
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, April 2016]

Dorsal view of a pair of Pink-eared Ducks (photo courtesy of R. Druce)
[Whittaker's Lagoon, near Moree, NSW, June 2012]

Four Pink-eared Ducks having a snooze together with three Grey Teals; note that no pink dots are visible - we do not know whether this is to be expected; the photo was taken at the end of the breeding season
[Goran Lake, NSW, April 2011]

Pink-eared Ducks resting on a partially submerged tree on the edge of a water storage dam
[Old Quipolly Dam, Quirindi, NSW, December 2013]

Pink-eared Ducks resting in close proximity to several other species of aquatic birds; they formed part of a flock of about 250 birds in total
[Goran Lake, NSW, December 2011]

Pair of Pink-eared Ducks taking off from a semi-permanent waterhole (photo courtesy of R. Druce)
[Whittaker's Lagoon, near Moree, NSW, June 2012]

Pair of Pink-eared Ducks low in flight (photo courtesy of R. Druce)
[Whittaker's Lagoon, near Moree, NSW, June 2012]

Pink-eared Ducks in flight, together with Grey Teals
[Goran Lake, NSW, October 2011]

Frontal view of a flock of Pink-eared Ducks in flight
[Goran Lake, NSW, December 2011]


Close-up lateral view of a Pink-eared duckling
[Yarrie Lake, near Wee Waa, NSW, November 2016]

Pink-eared Duck with six ducklings
[Yarrie Lake, near Wee Waa, NSW, November 2016]

Pink-eared Duck with four ducklings (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Lake Claremont, Perth, WA, January 2015]

Family of Pink-eared Ducks in wetlands near Moree, NSW (photo courtesy of C. Hayne)

Pink-eared Duck duckling with its "mate", an equally young Australian Wood Duck duckling (photo courtesy of C. Hayne); click on photo to see who is swimming ahead of them...

Breeding information

Breeding season: Aug - Nov Eggs: 6 - 8 Incubation period: 26 days Fledging age: N/A

Pink-eared Ducks breed mostly in the south-eastern quarter (inland, west of the Great Dividing Range, mostly to the East of the NSW/SA border) and in the south-western corner of the Australian continent. Although Pink-eared Ducks preferably breed in the southern spring, they can in principle breed any time of the year, usually after a big rain event (usually after floods, when the water starts receding).

Like other ducklings, young Pink-eared Ducks are precocial, leaving their nest at a young age, to be led by their mother until they can fly.

Nest building: ? Incubation: Female Dependent care: Female


"bungobittah", "malunna" = nest [Aboriginal]

Type: (Basket) Material: Downy feathers Height above ground: 0.5 - ? m

Usually the nest will be in an open hollow, usually in the trunk of an old, dead tree, less exposed than the nest shown here. The only material used is an abundance of feathers that can totally cover the eggs.

Female Pink-eared Duck on its nest, while the male is staying nearby (photo courtesy of A. Christopher)
[Mooroopna, near Shepparton, VIC, November 2013]

Pink-eared Ducks re-using a White-necked Heron nest; because of the downy feathers the eggs inside are invisible (photo courtesy of D. Johnston)
[Near Baradine, NSW, 1980ies]


"boyanga", "booyanga", "derinya", "dirandil", "koomura", "ngampu", "nooluk", "pateena" = Egg; "dirundirri" = eggs [Aboriginal]; "gawu" = eggs [gamilaraay]

Size: 50 x 36 mm Colour: Creamy Shape: Tapered oval

One needs to lift the "lid" of this Pink-eared Duck nest to see at least 6 eggs inside (photo courtesy of D. Johnston)
[Near Baradine, NSW, 1980ies]


Social behaviour: Communal Mobility: Dispersive Elementary unit: Large flock

Pink-eared Ducks are often found in flocks, with up to hundreds of birds resting or flying together. They often roost together with other ducks or waders or other species of aquatic birds.

Flock of Pink-eared Ducks on the edge of an irrigation farm dam (photo courtesy of C. Hayne)

Frontal view of a flock of Pink-eared Ducks in flight
[Goran Lake, NSW, December 2011]

Ventral view of Pink-eared Ducks in in a mixed flock with Grey Teals
[Burren Junction, NSW, January 2016]

We have seen Pink-eared Ducks stay together with Grey Teals on several occasions (see e.g. above the photos of flocks in flight).

Occasionally, we have observed Pink-eared Duck swimming in two parallel lines in opposite directions, then often paddling in circles around one another in pairs. This may have been a way to create waves while filter-feeding.

Pink-eared Ducks first swimming in parallel lines in opposite directions, then circling around each other in pairs while filter-feeding
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, April 2016]

Even birds usually living in flocks, such as Pink-eared Ducks, sometimes need to settle disputes; here two are displaying a threatening posture before a fight broke out
[Yarrie Lake, NSW, October 2016]

Food, Diet

Pink-eared Ducks seen filter-feeding
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, April 2016]


For this species we have recorded the following call(s)/song. The interpretation of their meaning is our own; comments and suggestions for improvement are welcome.

pnkduck_20140728_4.mp3 (NW NSW) Contact call © MD
pnkduck_20140424.mp3 (NW NSW) Contact calls © MD
pnkduck_20140711.mp3 (NW NSW) Warning call (human) & reply © MD
pnkduck_20140728_3.mp3 (NW NSW) Arrival © MD
pnkduck_20160131.mp3 (NW NSW) Flock in flight © MD
pnkduck_20141206_2.mp3 (NW NSW) Mixed flock (with Red-n. Avocet) © MD
pnkduck_20141206.mp3 (NW NSW) Various © MD
pnkduck_20140728_2.mp3 (NW NSW) ? © MD

These pages are largely based on our own observations and those of our contributors. The structure of these bird pages is explained HERE. For more salient facts on any bird species please refer to a field guide.

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