Last recorded in the Park in 2013, the Musk Duck has made a recent appearance at Sydney Olympic Park! This species is one of Australia’s more unusual birds, with unique features that help it stand out amongst other ducks.
What is a Musk Duck?
The Musk Duck (Biziura lobata) is only found in Australia, with male Musk Ducks being the largest of Australian ducks. The common name of this species comes from the strong musk odour produced from a gland on the rump of males.
How do I tell this species apart from other ducks?
Apart from size and smell, you can tell a Musk Duck apart by some rather unique features:
- The tail of a Musk Duck is a collection of long, stiff feathers, which is spotted easily when held in a fan-shape above water.
- The latter part of the scientific name ‘lobata’ translates to ‘having lobes’. A large bulbous lobe of skin hangs under bill of a male Musk Duck, and this sac increases in size at the start of the breeding season. Although females have a lobe, it is much smaller and not as noticeable.
- Being a heavy bodied duck, the Musk Duck will sit much lower in the water than other ducks looking much like a little submarine when swimming.
Where would I expect to find a Musk Duck?
The species is most often recorded in southern regions of Australia. As Musk Ducks have their legs placed far back on their body to aid them in swimming and diving, they have been noted as rather clumsy when walking on land. It is thought that this is the reason why they are not commonly seen on land and tend to spend their time in the water.
So when looking for a Musk Duck it is your best bet to look in deep freshwater lagoons fringed by dense reed beds. They forage underwater for most of their food including aquatic insects, crustaceans, snails, shellfish, and fish.
Keep your eyes peeled, and you just may see a Musk Duck in the freshwater wetlands or estuarine waterways of Sydney Olympic Park!