Friday, Nov 28, 2014

Pink-eared Ducks

Pink-eared Duck (Malacorhynchus membranaceus)


Pink-eared Duck (Malacorhynchus membranaceus) The Pink-eared Duck, (Malacorhynchus membranaceus) is a species of duck found in Australia. It is the only living member of the genus Malacorhynchus; a closely related, but slightly larger extinct form from New Zealand was described as Scarlett's Duck (Malacorhynchus scarletti).

This peculiar duck appears to be most closely related to the shelducks.


Description:

It has a large spatulate bill like Australasian Shoveler, but is smaller at 38-40 cm length.

Its brown back and crown, black and white barred sides and black eye patches on its otherwise white face make this bird unmistakable.

Juveniles are slightly duller, but otherwise all plumages are similar.

Its vernacular name refers to a pink spot in the corner formed by the black head pattern; it is only noticeable at close distance however, making the seldom-used Australian name of Zebra Duck more appropriate. Their tiny, bright rose-colored ear-patches (slightly above and behind the eye) are scarcely visible except at close range.


Pink-eared DuckDistribution / Habitat:

This duck is widely distributed throughout Australia. It is known to be highly mobile. They can appear anywhere there is productive water, especially in dry inland regions, where annual rainfall rarely exceeds 15 inches.

Nesting is stimulated by the drying and filling of pools that promote increased levels of organic material. In good years, large numbers of Pink-eared ducks concentrate in shallow flood plains. However, when conditions do not meet specifications, reproduction may be completely curtailed.


Pink-eared DuckTaxonomy and systematics

It is the only living member of the genus Malacorhynchus; a closely related, but slightly larger extinct form from New Zealand was described as Scarlett's Duck (Malacorhynchus scarletti). This peculiar duck may be most closely related to the shelducks but its relationships are enigmatic. It may be closer to the Musk Duck and the stiff-tails (Sraml et al. 1996) and, formerly placed in the paraphyletic "perching ducks" it is in any case not close to the dabbling ducks.

The Pink-eared Duck was reportedly known as the New Holland Duck by early colonists in Western Australia.


Breeding

Nesting is stimulated by the drying and filling of pools that promote increased levels of organic material. In good years, large numbers of Pink-eared ducks concentrate in shallow flood plains. However, when conditions do not meet specifications, reproduction may be completely curtailed.

Pink-eared Duck (Malacorhynchus membranaceus)

Copyright: Wikipedia. This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from Wikipedia.org ... Additional information and photos added by Avianweb.


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Diet / Feeding:

Pink-eared Ducks are dependent on plankton, as well as crustaceans, mollusks and insects. Their bill is well designed for straining minute organisms, with pliable mandibular flaps that channel water in a manner that allow the ducks to filter algae and other plankton efficiently. They also feed by vortexing, in which two ducks spin about a central point with the head of one opposite the tail of the other, concentrating food in a gyrating water column.

Ducks generally feed on larvae and pupae usually found under rocks, aquatic animals, plant material, seeds, small fish, snails and crabs.

Feeding Ducks ...

We all enjoy ducks and many of us offer them food to encourage them to come over and stay around - and it works! Who doesn't like an easy meal!

However, the foods that we traditionally feed them at local ponds are utterly unsuitable for them and are likely to cause health problems down the road. Also, there may be local laws against feeding this species of bird - so it's best to check on that rather than facing consequences at a later stage.

Please note that feeding ducks and geese makes them dependent on humans for food, which can result in starvation and possibly death when those feedings stop. If you decide to feed them, please limit the quantity to make sure that they maintain their natural ability to forage for food themselves - providing, of course, that natural food sources are available.



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