The hardhead duck, also known as the Australian white-eyed duck, is the family of birds that is the only diving duck found in Australia. It is scientifically known as hardhead Aythya australis. They are medium-sized birds that are commonly found in wetlands, swarms, and freshwater. Overall, it is chocolate brown in color. Apart from southeast Australia being the major place for their presence, they are also found in New Guinea and other islands in limited numbers. They generally weigh 800-900 g and some even up to 1 kg.
The white-eyed duck usually stays in areas of favorable habitat, but they migrate great distances when drought threatens. They spend most of their lives in freshwater, and they are rarely seen in coastal marine areas or land. In Australia, when the weather conditions are favorable with high rainfall years that create inland lakes and large wetlands, these birds are less nomadic and breed in large numbers. Their powerful webbed feet make them very proficient swimmers. These ducks feed on aquatic plants and vertebrates, mussels, small fish, and shellfish. Read on to learn more about this diving duck.
You can also check out crested duck and duck facts if you enjoy learning about ducks.
What do they prey on?
Water weeds, mussels, shellfish, small fish, earthworm
What do they eat?
Average litter size?
How much do they weigh?
How long are they?
17-23 in (45-60 cm)
How tall are they?
What do they look like?
Chocolate brown, white, pale blue
What are their main threats?
Raccoons, coyote, snake
What is their conservation status?
Where you'll find them
Wetlands, freshwater, swamps
Australia, New Guinea, other islands
Hardhead Interesting Facts
What type of animal is a hardhead?
The hardhead, Aythya australis, is a type of waterbird species that generally spend their lives in wetlands and freshwater.
What class of animal does a hardhead belong to?
The hardhead, Aythya australis, belongs to the Aves class of animals.
How many hardheads are there in the world?
The total population count of hardhead species in the world is unknown. The population trend of these ducks appears to be fluctuating, and the number has been declining at large in New Zealand.
Where does a hardhead live?
Hardheads are known to live in wetlands, lakeside, ponds, and avoid any coastal waters in small numbers. They are also known as waterbirds since they spend most of their lives diving into the water, foraging for their food. Their nest is built with sticks, reeds, and vegetation with some down lining. The nests are usually built by the female hardhead.
What is a hardhead's habitat?
The hardhead habitat consists of shallow freshwater swamps, wetlands, flooded grasslands, shallow pools, and occasionally in estuaries and they avoid coastal waters. They prefer deep, fresh open water and vegetated wetlands for breeding.
Who do hardheads live with?
The white-eyed hardheads generally live alone and not in pairs or groups. When their eggs hatch, they tend to live with their ducklings until they are capable to survive on their own.
How long does a hardhead live?
The lifespan of the hard head range between 7-10 years, and sometimes even more. Unless they fall prey to their threats, they can live peacefully for more than seven years.
How do they reproduce?
The breeding season of brown hardheads differs according to the rainfall pattern. Breeding usually occurs from October to December in the South-east and from September to December in the News South Wales. The female hard head can lay between 9-13 eggs and incubates them alone. Female hardheads are also known as independent bird mothers, due to the fact that they incubate the eggs alone and rear the ducklings alone too, without the help of their partner.
What is their conservation status?
The conservation status of the hardheads is of Least Concern since their population is stable. But in some regions, a decline in the population of these species has been observed since the last recent years, and they will be threatened in the future due to the degradation of wetlands. Some regions have kept the conservation status of these birds as Vulnerable.
Hardhead Fun Facts
What do hardheads look like?
Hardheads are easy to differentiate from other species of birds or ducks due to their white pale eyes. The adult male has a dark brown head, body, and neck. They have dark brown upper wings with washed red coverts, and a broad white stripe can be observed on primary and secondary coverts. White underparts and underwings with brown edges, a blackish bill with gray-blue to whitish subterminal, black nail, pale or white eyes, and gray webbed feet are the physical features that describe hardheads. The male hardhead has white eyes, while the female has slightly paler, and dusky eyes. Otherwise, there is not much difference between the males and females hardheads.
How cute are they?
These bird species are considered not very cute since they are not very colorful and friendly to approach unless you want to feed them with snacks.
How do they communicate?
The communication between them is unclear, but hardheads are relatively silent outside the breeding season. During the courtship displays, the male utters soft and wheezy whistles, and whirr, while the female utters a loud 'gaark'.
How big is a hardhead?
Hardheads are generally five times bigger than forest ravens.
How fast can a hardhead fly?
These bird species, as they are known to migrate occasionally, are capable of flying for several miles per day. They are able to take off rapidly from water and have a fast flight.
How much does a hardhead weigh?
A white-eyed duck weighs between 800-900 g, and sometimes reaches up to 1 kg, but very rarely since they are waterbird species.
What are their male and female names of the species?
No separate name has been used to describe the males and females of the hardhead birds. However, generally, males are called drakes, and females, are simply called ducks.
What would you call a baby hardhead?
The youngs of the hardheads are called ducklings.
What do they eat?
The hardhead diet mainly consists of small fishes, aquatic invertebrates, plants, and seeds.
Are they friendly?
Since they are wild water birds, they may not be very much associated with humans, but people feed them snacks and seeds in parks and lakes.
Would they make a good pet?
If you have a pond or lake filled with aquatic weeds and gardens, or open spaces, then it may be great to raise them as a pet as they prefer to settle in wet places or places with water.
Did you know...
When hardheads fly, they make a distinctive whirring sound.
A hardhead never perches on trees and rarely comes on land.
They are known to dive in the water to forage food and stay in the water.
The hardhead meat is a delicacy in some parts of the world as a high-priced cuisine.
Why is it called hardhead?
The name 'hardhead' has nothing to do with the duck's cranium, but it stems from the early taxidermists who found that the head of the duck was the most difficult part to process.
What is special about hardhead ducks?
Hardheads are special since they are the only true diving duck in Australia.
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