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2

Blue-billed Duck

(Oxyura australis)
Alternate name(s): "Spiny-tailed Duck", "Diving Duck*",
"Stiff-tailed Duck", "Little Musk Duck"
Aboriginal name(s): "boodo" (SW WA)

Size: 36-44 cm
Weight: 0.6-1.2 kg

Similar
species

Description     Classification     Distribution     Sightings     Photos     Breeding     Nest     Eggs     Behaviour     Food     Call/s

Physical description

Click here for a physical description

Taxonomy, classification

See Blue-billed Duck at Wikipedia .

Range, habitat, finding this species

Click here for information on habitat and range

Sightings

Click here for sighting information

Photos

ADULT

MALE

BREEDING

Close-up frontal view of a male Blue-billed Duck in breeding plumage; note the characteristic blue bill
(photo courtesy of C. Pears)
[Lake Monger, Perth, WA, October 2022]

Frontal view of a male Blue-billed Duck in breeding plumage
[Old Quipolly Dam, near Quirindi, NSW, December 2016]

Near-frontal view of a male Blue-billed Duck in breeding plumage
[Old Quipolly Dam, near Quirindi, NSW, December 2016]

Close-up lateral view of a male Blue-billed Duck in breeding plumage
[Old Quipolly Dam, near Quirindi, NSW, December 2016]

Close-up lateral view of a resting male Blue-billed Duck in breeding plumage (photo courtesy of C. Pears)
[Lake Monger, Perth, WA, October 2022]

Lateral view of a male Blue-billed Duck in breeding plumage (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Lake Galletly, Gatton, QLD, August 2022]

Lateral view of a male Blue-billed Duck
[Old Quipolly Dam, Quirindi, NSW, April 2012]

Lateral view of a preening male Blue-billed Duck in breeding plumage
[May 2010]

Close-up near-dorsal view of a male Blue-billed Duck in breeding plumage (photo courtesy of C. Pears)
[Lake Monger, Perth, WA, October 2022]

Close-up near-dorsal view of a resting male Blue-billed Duck in breeding plumage (photo courtesy of C. Pears)
[Lake Monger, Perth, WA, October 2022]

Near-dorsal view of a male Blue-billed Duck in breeding plumage (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Lake Herdsman, Perth, WA, January 2015]

NON-BREEDING

Overview of a mob of Blue-billed Ducks, with males in non-breeding plumage; note the remnant of chestnut on their backs - e.g., the birds at the front and on the far left; note also that the males' bills are not blue in eclipse (photo courtesy of C. Pears)
[Lake Monger, Perth, WA, May 2024]

FEMALE

Near-frontal view of a female Blue-billed Duck
[Old Quipolly Dam, near Quirindi, NSW, December 2016]

Near-frontal view of a female Blue-billed Duck looking sideways (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Lake Galletly, Gatton, QLD, August 2022]

Near-lateral view of a female Blue-billed Duck (photo courtesy of C. Pears)
[Lake Claremont, Perth, WA, November 2022]

Near-lateral view of a female Blue-billed Duck
[Old Quipolly Dam, near Quirindi, NSW, December 2016]

Close-up lateral view of a female Blue-billed Duck (photo courtesy of C. Pears)
[Lake Claremont, Perth, WA, November 2022]

Close-up lateral view of a female Blue-billed Duck
[Old Quipolly Dam, near Quirindi, NSW, December 2016]

Lateral view of a female Blue-billed Duck
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, December 2010]

Lateral view of a preening female Blue-billed Duck
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, December 2010]

PAIR

BREEDING

Lateral view of a pair of Blue-billed Ducks, male in breeding plumage
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, November 2010]

Lateral view of a pair of Blue-billed Ducks, male in breeding plumage
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, November 2010]

Close-up view of a pair of Blue-billed Ducks resting on a pond
[May 2010]

NON-BREEDING

Two pairs of Blue-billed Ducks, with males in non-breeding plumage; note the remnant of chestnut on their backs - e.g., the birds at the front and on the far left (photo courtesy of C. Pears)
[Lake Monger, Perth, WA, May 2024]

IMMATURE/JUVENILE

Lateral view of a moulting male Blue-billed Duck; the rather short bill suggests that this may be an immature bird, rather than an adult male moulting from eclipse into breeding plumage
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, November 2010]

Near-lateral view of a Blue-billed Duck; the prominent barring and pinkish gape suggest that this may be an immature bird
[Old Quipolly Dam, near Quirindi, NSW, December 2016]

Lateral view of an immature(?) Blue-billed Duck flapping its wings
[Old Quipolly Dam, near Quirindi, NSW, December 2016]

Lateral view of a female Blue-billed Duck with 5 ducklings (photo courtesy of C. Pears)
[Lake Claremont, Perth, WA, October 2022]

Behaviour

Social behaviour: Territorial Mobility: Dispersive/sedentary Elementary unit: Pair

A male was observed by us "patrolling" a stretch of reeds, paddling both ways, either on open water or in or behind the reeds, as if to protect its territory. The male also repeatedly bobbed its head and tried to impress a female seen by us. If indeed territorial behaviour, Blue-billed Ducks may have been breeding at Narrabri Lake in the breeding season of 2010/11.

Male Blue-billed Duck displaying its tail for a female
[Old Quipolly Dam, near Quirindi, NSW, July 2016]

Male Blue-billed Duck, right, trying to impress a female, left - first he made a big splash and then dashed across the lake, to the left, at top speed - here he is seen "revving up"
[Old Quipolly Dam, near Quirindi, NSW, July 2016]

Blue-billed Ducks resting on open water (photo courtesy of C. Pears)
[Lake Monger, Perth, WA, April 2021]

Blue-billed Ducks resting on open water (photo courtesy of C. Pears)
[Lake Monger, Perth, WA, April 2021]

Food, Diet

Unlike other geese, ducks and swans, Blue-billed Ducks are not vegetarian. Apart from underwater plants, they also feed on aquatic invertebrates.

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.

blubill_20161208_2.mp3 (NW NSW) Squabbling (with wing beats) © MD

We have also recorded the wing beats of a Blue-billed Duck.

blubill_20161208.mp3 (NW NSW) Male display © MD

More Blue-billed Duck sound recordings are available at xeno-canto.org .

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.

Would you like to contribute photos or sound recordings to this site?
If interested, please CLICK HERE. Credits to contributors are given HERE.