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Musk Duck

Biziura lobata


The male Musk Duck is the largest of Australia's ducks and has a powerful build. Musk Ducks get their name from the strong musk odour produced from a gland on the rump. The female is smaller than the male. Both male and female Musk Ducks are sooty-brown in plumage, with paler brown barring on the body and fine spots of the head. They are paler below, becoming whiter towards the abdomen. The male is decorated with a large bulbous lobe of skin hanging under his bill. This sac increases in size at the start of the breeding season. The female also has a much-reduced lobe on the underside of its bill, only visible at a short distance. The bill is dark grey in both sexes and the eye dark brown. The tail is a collection of long, stiff feathers, which can be held in a fan-shape. Young Musk Ducks are similar to the adult female, but are paler, with a dull yellow tip on bill, and no lobe. (Birds in Backyards)


Musk Ducks tend to be found in deep freshwater lagoons, with dense reed beds. They are normally seen singly or in pairs, but may form medium to large groups in the winter. Flight usually takes place at night. The birds' bulky size means a large distance is required for take off, and the landing is often quite clumsy. (Birds in Backyards)


What a gem this male Musk Duck was to find, normally very shy and elusive. This male was not going anywhere. As we discovered, he was guarding his female companion. We think that he was hoping to distract us away from his female companion who was nestled into a bank on the opposing side of the water. As Musk Ducks are known for their awkardness on land, we found it a rare treat to see a female looking like she may be nesting. We left quickly to let them go about their day.

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lori.tas 6 years ago

Nice shot. Really shows how they swim low in the water with their stiff tails submerged. I only ever get to see them at great distance.

ShannaB 6 years ago


Victoria, Australia

Lat: -37.93, Long: 144.66

Spotted on Feb 10, 2012
Submitted on Mar 8, 2012

Spotted for mission

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