Hardhead

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Image:Hardhead.JPG

Common Name: Hardhead
Scientific Name: Aythya australis

Size: 17.7-23.6 inches (45-60 cm); Wingspan: 29.5-33.4 inches (75-85cm)

Habitat: Australia; endemic and common in most of Australia, particularly in the Murray-Darling Basin, but also in the wetter country near the coasts. They are moderately nomadic in normal years, but disperse widely in times of drought. Significant numbers reach as far afield as New Guinea, New Zealand, and the islands of the Pacific, where they can remain for some time, even breeding for a season or two.

They are found in freshwater swamps and wetlands and occasionally in sheltered estuaries. They are rarely seen on land and tend to roost on low branches and stumps near the water. They prefer deep, fresh open water and densely vegetated wetlands for breeding.

Status: Least Concern. Global population: Unknown amount of Adult individuals. The overall population trend is fluctuating. Hardheads have declined in some areas after draining of freshwater wetlands or diversion of water for irrigation.

Diet: Small aquatic creatures, supplemented with water weeds. They dive deep into the water, often staying submerged for as long as a minute at a time, while they forage for food. They also sit low in the water.

Nesting: Both male and female are a fairly uniform chocolate-brown above, with rufous flanks and white undersides. The trailing edges and almost the entire underside of the wings are white. In the male, the eyes are a striking white, in the female, brown.

Hardheads breed in low, thick vegetation, in or near the water, along rivers and channels and around billabongs and dams. The nest is a trampled platform of reeds, sticks and vegetation, with some down lining. The nest is built by the female, and is often added to with what she can reach from the nest. The hen incubates the eggs alone.

Cool Facts: The “Hardhead” is also known as the “White-eyed duck”. When flying, the wings make a distinctive whirring sound.


Found in Songbird Remix Waterfowl Volume II: Diving and Sea Ducks

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