Nature conservation

Threatened species

Blue-billed Duck - profile

Indicative distribution


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Key:
known
predicted
The areas shown in pink and/purple are the sub-regions where the species or community is known or predicted to occur. They may not occur thoughout the sub-region but may be restricted to certain areas. ( click here to see geographic restrictions). The information presented in this map is only indicative and may contain errors and omissions.
Scientific name: Oxyura australis
Conservation status in NSW: Vulnerable
Commonwealth status: Not listed
Profile last updated: 01 Dec 2017

Description

The Blue-billed Duck is one of only two Australian species of stiff-tailed ducks - diving ducks with spine-like tail-feathers. It is a small and compact duck, with a length of 40 cm. The male's head and neck are glossy black, and the back and wings are a rich, chestnut to dark-brown. During the summer breeding season the male's bill turns bright blue. The female is brownish-black above, with narrow bands of light brown and mottled light brown and black below. The female's bill is dark grey-green. In the non-breeding season the male resembles a dark female. The tail is usually held flat on the water, although during courtship, or when alarmed, it is held fully erect.

Distribution

The Blue-billed Duck is endemic to south-eastern and south-western Australia. It is widespread in NSW, but most common in the southern Murray-Darling Basin area. Birds disperse during the breeding season to deep swamps up to 300 km away. It is generally only during summer or in drier years that they are seen in coastal areas.

Habitat and ecology

  • The Blue-billed Duck prefers deep water in large permanent wetlands and swamps with dense aquatic vegetation. The species is completely aquatic, swimming low in the water along the edge of dense cover. It will fly if disturbed, but prefers to dive if approached.
  • Blue-billed Ducks will feed by day far from the shore, particularly if dense cover is available in the central parts of the wetland. They feed on the bottom of swamps eating seeds, buds, stems, leaves, fruit and small aquatic insects such as the larvae of midges, caddisflies and dragonflies.
  • Blue-billed Ducks are partly migratory, with short-distance movements between breeding swamps and overwintering lakes with some long-distance dispersal to breed during spring and early summer.
  • Blue-billed Ducks usually nest solitarily in Cumbungi over deep water between September and February. They will also nest in trampled vegetation in Lignum, sedges or Spike-rushes, where a bowl-shaped nest is constructed. The most common clutch size is five or six. Males take no part in nest-building or incubation.
  • Young birds disperse in April-May from their breeding swamps in inland NSW to non-breeding areas on the Murray River system and coastal lakes.

Regional distribution and habitat

Click on a region below to view detailed distribution, habitat and vegetation information.


Threats

Recovery strategies

Activities to assist this species

Information sources

IBRA Bioregion IBRA Subregion Known or predicted Geographic restrictions region
Brigalow Belt SouthLiverpool Plains Known None
Brigalow Belt SouthLiverpool Range Known None
Brigalow Belt SouthMoonie-Barwon Interfluve Predicted None
Brigalow Belt SouthNarrandool Known None
Brigalow Belt SouthNorthern Basalts Predicted None
Brigalow Belt SouthPilliga Predicted None
Brigalow Belt SouthPilliga Outwash Known None
Brigalow Belt SouthTalbragar Valley Known None
Broken Hill ComplexBarrier Range Known None
Broken Hill ComplexBarrier Range Outwash Known None
Broken Hill ComplexMootwingee Downs Known None
Broken Hill ComplexScopes Range Predicted None
Channel CountryBulloo Known None
Channel CountryBulloo Dunefields Known None
Channel CountryCentral Depression Known None
Channel CountryCore Ranges Predicted None
Channel CountrySturt Stony Desert Known None
Cobar PeneplainBarnato Downs Predicted None
Cobar PeneplainBoorindal Plains Predicted None
Cobar PeneplainCanbelego Downs Known None
Cobar PeneplainLachlan Plains Known None
Cobar PeneplainNymagee Predicted None
Darling Riverine PlainsBogan-Macquarie Known None
Darling Riverine PlainsCastlereagh-Barwon Known None
Darling Riverine PlainsCulgoa-Bokhara Predicted None
Darling Riverine PlainsLouth Plains Known None
Darling Riverine PlainsMenindee Known None
Darling Riverine PlainsWarrambool-Moonie Known None
Darling Riverine PlainsWilcannia Plains Known None
Mulga LandsCuttaburra-Paroo Known None
Mulga LandsKerribree Basin Predicted None
Mulga LandsNebine Plains Known None
Mulga LandsParoo Overflow Predicted None
Mulga LandsParoo-Darling Sands Predicted None
Mulga LandsUrisino Sandplains Predicted None
Mulga LandsWarrego Plains Predicted None
Mulga LandsWarrego Sands Predicted None
Mulga LandsWest Warrego Predicted None
Mulga LandsWhite Cliffs Plateau Known None
Murray Darling DepressionDarling Depression Predicted None
Murray Darling DepressionSouth Olary Plain Known None
NandewarPeel Known None
New England TablelandsArmidale Plateau Known None
New England TablelandsBundarra Downs Known None
New England TablelandsDeepwater Downs Known None
New England TablelandsGlenn Innes-Guyra Basalts Known None
New England TablelandsMoredun Volcanics Known None
New England TablelandsNightcap Known None
New England TablelandsSevern River Volcanics Known None
New England TablelandsWongwibinda Plateau Known None
New England TablelandsYarrowyck-Kentucky Downs Known None
NSW North CoastCoffs Coast and Escarpment Known None
NSW North CoastMacleay Hastings Known None
NSW South Western SlopesInland Slopes Known None
NSW South Western SlopesLower Slopes Known None
Ocean - Other StateSouthern Australian Coastal Waters Known None
Other StateACT Known None
Other StateQLD Known None
Other StateSA Known None
Other StateVIC Known None
RiverinaLachlan Known None
RiverinaMurray Fans Known None
RiverinaMurray Scroll Belt Known None
RiverinaMurrumbidgee Known None
RiverinaRobinvale Plains Known None
Simpson Strzelecki DunefieldsStrzelecki Desert Known None
South Eastern HighlandsBathurst Predicted None
South Eastern HighlandsBondo Predicted None
South Eastern HighlandsHill End Known None
South Eastern HighlandsMonaro Known None
South Eastern HighlandsMurrumbateman Known None
South Eastern HighlandsOberon Known None
South Eastern HighlandsOrange Known None
South Eastern QueenslandClarence Lowlands Known None
South Eastern QueenslandScenic Rim Known None
Sydney BasinHunter Known None
Sydney BasinIllawarra Known None
Sydney BasinKerrabee Known None
Sydney BasinMoss Vale Known None
Sydney BasinWyong Known None