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2

Australian (Maned) Wood Duck

(Chenonetta jubata)
Alternate name(s): "Woody", "Maned Goose"
Aboriginal name(s): "erialta", "goonahea", "goonaroi", "koonallee", "gnaroo" "barrgabarrga" [yuwaalaraay], "gunambaay" [gamilaraay], "warraaday" [gumbaynggirr];
"maranganna", "billira", "boota" (WA)

Size: 45-60 cm; wing span: 80 cm (average)
Weight: 810 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 Australian Wood Duck at Wikipedia .

Range, habitat, finding this species

Click here for information on habitat and range

Sightings

Click here for sighting information

Photos

Not the photos you want? Or are you after even better quality? Have a look here .

ADULT

MALE

Near-frontal view of a male Australian (Maned) Wood Duck
[Narrabri, NSW, October 2010]

Lateral view of a male Australian (Maned) Wood Duck
[Narrabri, NSW, October 2010]

Here a slightly different posture and different light conditions
[Narrabri, NSW, February 2008]

Dorsal view of a male Australian (Maned) Wood Duck; here the speculum is hidden from view
[Narrabri, NSW, October 2010]

Here a clear view of an Australian (Maned) Wood Duck's iridescent speculum
[Eulah Creek, NSW, November 2008]

Different view of the iridescent speculum while the Australian (Maned) Wood Duck is preening
[Eulah Creek, NSW, December 2008]

Male Australian (Maned) Wood Duck on a dam; one can see clearly why they are called "maned"
[Near Narrabri, NSW, March 2006]

Male Australian (Maned) Wood Duck in an urban park (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Highland Park, Gold Coast, QLD, December 2013]

Male Australian (Maned) Wood Duck flapping its wings, thereby showing clearly the upperwing plumage, in particular the green iridescent speculum (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Carrara, Gold Coast, QLD, January 2015]

FEMALE

Pair of Australian (Maned) Wood Duck in an urban park (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Highland Park, Gold Coast, QLD, December 2013]

Lateral view of a female Australian (Maned) Wood Duck
[Eulah Creek, NSW, November 2008]

Female Australian (Maned) Wood Duck preening
[Eulah Creek, NSW, December 2008]

Lateral view of Australian (Maned) Wood Ducks in flight
[Whittaker's Lagoon near Moree, NSW, June 2012]

IMMATURE/JUVENILE

Lateral view of an immature Australian (Maned) Wood Duck
[Eulah Creek, NSW, November 2013]

Family of Australian Wood (Maned) Ducks with 8 ducklings
[Eulah Creek, NSW, November 2006]

A whole bunch of Australian (Maned) Wood Duck ducklings (photo courtesy of C. Hayne)

Australian (Maned) Wood Duck duckling (photo courtesy of R. Druce)
[Harparary, NSW, October 2012]

Smaller family of Australian (Maned) Wood Ducks with 3 ducklings (photo courtesy of C. Hayne)

Here dad demonstrates how to duck even on the surface of a pond
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, October 2010]

Batch of Australian Wood Duck ducklings left alone in the middle of a dams while their parents were off for "morning smoko"
[Near Narrabri, NSW, August 2007]

These Australian (Maned) Wood Duck ducklings were observed at Narrabri Lake (with their parents) in late March 2012, when the first autumnal cold change of the season hit the area and other aquatic birds had already moulted into their non-breeding plumages
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, March 2012]

These Australian (Maned) Wood Duck ducklings were also led to pasture by their parents in autumn (photo courtesy of J. Ross-Taylor)
[Stanthorpe, QLD, March 2015]

Four Australian (Maned) Wood Duck ducklings feeding next to each other (photo courtesy of J. Ross-Taylor)
[Stanthorpe, QLD, March 2015]

Group photo of several species of water birds - a pair of Australian (Maned) Wood Ducks (centre), Grey Teals (left and right) and Australasian Grebes (the two smaller birds)
[Near Narrabri, NSW, August 2007]

Group photo of several species of water birds - a pair of Australian Wood Ducks (far left), a family of Grey Teals (centre) and a pair of Australasian Grebes (front)
[Near Narrabri, NSW, August 2007]

Breeding information

Breeding season: Aug - Oct Eggs: 8 - 14 Incubation period: 28 days Fledging age: (see text)

The breeding season of Australian Wood Ducks depends on both geographic latitude and weather conditions. Given the right conditions, they can in principle breed any time of the year. Listed in the table above is the main breeding season in the southern half of Australia. In the tropical North they breed primarily in the period January - March. In semi-arid regions Australian Wood Ducks can breed any time after good rainfall.

Shortly after hatching the chicks climb out of the nesting hollow, jump down to the ground (without being able to fly!) and are led by their parents to the safety of the nearest suitable water surface (see photos below).

Nest building: ? Incubation: Female (& male?) Dependent care: Female & male

We have observed a pair of Australian Wood Ducks over an extended period of time while nesting. During that period, the female took all the incubating duties on herself. The superb insulation of the eggs by their feather lining allows the female to take regular breaks. When returning to the nest, she is always accompanied by the male, who "drops her off" at the nest. She flies into the tree with the nest hollow, while he flies a lap around the tree, probably to distract potential predators, and then disappears from view.

Eucalypt tree in which a pair of Australian Wood Ducks were found nesting; note that the leaf litter under the tree will soften the impact of chicks jumping down from the lip of the nesting hollow, about 4 m above ground
[Eulah Creek, NSW, August 2013]

Relative location of the eucalypt with respect to the closest water surface, a small farm dam
[Eulah Creek, NSW, August 2013]

Nest

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

Type: Tree hollow Material: Down feather lining Height above ground: 3 - 10(?) m

View of the entrance to the nesting hollow in the tree trunk; the adults always flew in and entered the hollow from the convenient saddle on the right
[Eulah Creek, NSW, August 2013]

This view of the nest gives an impression of the depth of the hollow (about 0.8-1.0 m); the nest is well lined with down; the chicks will need to scale the walls to get out
[Eulah Creek, NSW, August 2013]

R. Nicolai reports Australian Wood Ducks nesting in Baulkham Hills, a western suburb of Sydney, NSW, in June 2014. The nesting hollows inspected and then used by the Australian Wood Ducks had previously been used (for almost two decades) by Rainbow Lorikeets, before Sulphur-crested Cockatoos started using them (for about 5 years). This may suggest that the hollow's diameter increased in size over the years, allowing increasingly larger and heavier birds access.

Pair of Australian Wood Ducks inspecting tree hollows in a suburban environment; the male selected the top hollow for nesting (photo courtesy of R. Nicolai)
[Baulkham Hills, NSW, June 2014]

Two pairs of Australian Wood Ducks, with their clutches of a few weeks old ducklings, were observed by us on a farm dam in inland NSW in July 2014. The chicks must have hatched in June, the eggs laid in May, and the birds thus have bred right through the inland winter. At the time, the local nighttime minimum temperatures went down to only 0 or -1 C, while elsewhere in the region, just 15-35 km distant, where cold air could settle, the nighttime minimum temperatures were -3 to -5 C (and no breeding activity was observed in those areas). This may suggest that Australian Wood Ducks have a sense for localized weather patterns and that they can breed after only little to moderate recent rainfall.

Two pairs of parent Australian Wood Ducks with their clutches
[Eulah Creek, NSW, July 2014]

Eggs

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

Size: 58 x 42 mm Colour: Creamy Shape: Tapered oval

Close-up view of the 9 eggs in the nest
[Eulah Creek, NSW, August 2013]

Behaviour

Social behaviour: Communal Mobility: Sedentary/dispersive Elementary unit: Family/flock

 

Australian Wood Duck chicks have various ways of protecting themselves. We have seen a bunch of them in the middle of a dams, avoiding getting close to the rim as long as their parents were absent. But also with the parents around, getting back onto water is the first choice, even if the water is closer to a photographer than the paddock overgrown with tall grass in which they are feeding.

Family of Australian Wood Ducks rushing into a farm dam for protection
[Narrabri, NSW, December 2011]

Another protective measure was observed when we encountered a whole family on the bank of a dams. While everybody else ducked for cover in the water, mum splashed across the water surface with her "broken wing" act, veering off onto land, away from the rest of the family. The chicks that had ducked under water, had spread below the surface and re-appeared separate from each other. Only when the danger had passed, dad re-grouped them in the middle of the water surface.

When too far from the water's edge, a family of Woodies made the meaning of the phrase "ducking for cover" clear. Mum showed how to do it and all ducklings went flat onto the ground. A different example is shown in the photo below.

Ducking Duck
[Narrabri, NSW, August 2008]

When crossing a road with their offspring, Woodies are just about as smart as dogs. They watch for traffic, give a sign to the chicks and then dash across the tarmac and into cover again.

Female Australian Wood Duck with her chicks caught out in the open; there was no other way but to remain stock-still until the danger passed (photo courtesy of M. Windeyer)
[Near Armatree, NSW, July 2016]

Pair of Australian Wood Ducks looking for a suitable nesting hollow
[Near Nowendoc, NSW, July 2013]

Pair of Australian Wood Ducks leading their 9 chicks to a farm dam for protection; the chicks are between mom and dad, well hidden in tall grass
[Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2013]

Immature Australian Wood Ducks in an urban park literally having a bit of a "chin wag" (photo courtesy of C. Lawrence)
[Botanical Gardens, Canberra, ACT, June 2015]

Food, Diet

Like all other geese, ducks and swans, Australian Wood Ducks are vegetarian. They feed on plants, often on land, but also aquatic plant species.

Female Australian Wood Duck that was disturbed while nibbling on an aquatic plant
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, November 2012]

Female Australian Wood Duck feeding on what looks like moss by the side of a lake
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, June 2016]

Australian Wood Duck chicks being led to pasture by their parents, in this case on a levee leading to a dam that can provide protection in case of need
[Eulah Creek, NSW, November 2012]

Call(s)/Song

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.

wooduck_20140622.mp3 (NW NSW) Contact call © MD
wooduck_20140404_16.mp3 (NW NSW) Arrival © MD
wooduck_20140423.mp3 (NW NSW) Pair arrival (on water) © MD
wooduck_20140423_4.mp3 (NW NSW) Warning call? © MD
wooduck_20140404_20.mp3 (NW NSW) Courting? (Near nest hollow) © MD
wooduck_20140404_19.mp3 (NW NSW) Courting? (Near nest hollow) © MD
wooduck_20140728_1.mp3 (NW NSW) ? © MD
wooduck_20140423_5.mp3 (NW NSW) ? © MD

We have also recorded the characteristic, heavy wing beat of an Australian Wood Duck.

wooduck_20140404_21.mp3 (NW NSW) Flying a bend © MD
wooduck_20140404_17.mp3 (NW NSW) Landing in tree © MD
wooduck_20140423_6.mp3 (NW NSW) Departure © 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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If interested, please CLICK HERE. Credits to contributors are given HERE.