Monday, 4 August 2008

Musk Duck

...Biziura lobata

The Musk duck can be found on dams, lakes, rivers and estuaries throughout Tasmania. It requires deep water as it is a diving bird. It feeds primarily on aquatic animals including frogs, mollusks, crayfish and insects but also eats some vegetation.

These ducks are said to be common in Tasmania although I always feel privileged when I get to see one. Previously I had only ever seen one Musk Duck at Lake Keepit in N.S.W. Since moving back to Tasmania I have seen one several times at Lake Dulverton. At Sorrel I seen a flock of 6 but Michael Sharland's "Tasmanian Birds" mentions flocks of up to 50 at this same location.

The most unusual feature of the musk duck is the leathery lobe under the bill. This was once believed to be the source of musky odour associated with these ducks. However, it is now believed to be decorative. It swells during the breeding season so perhaps it is part of the attraction for a female musk duck.

In it's mating display, the male will splash water about with it's wings or tail which is precisely what the drake photographed below was doing although I was trying so hard to get a shot of it sitting still that I didn't think to get a shot of the splashing :-) As I mentioned yesterday, the photos are pretty poor quality but you'll just have to grim and bear it because I like Musk Ducks and these are the first photos I've managed to get :-)

Male Musk Duck - Biziura lobata - Lake Dulverton, Oatlands

Male Musk Duck - Biziura lobata - Lake Dulverton, Oatlands

Male Musk Duck - Biziura lobata - Lake Dulverton, Oatlands

  • Sharland, Michael. 1958. Tasmanian Birds - Angus & Robertson
  • Blakers, Davies, Reilly. 1984. The Atlas of Australian Birds - Melbourne University Press


  1. Interesting duck - and sometimes the best photos are not technically perfect but they capture and remind us of a moment in time.

  2. Hi Mosura
    Nice photos of one of my personal favourite birds. I especially liked the one with the tail fully spread like that.
    I took a sequence once of the male displaying, and I got the Splash. But, afternoon light on water is very hard.
    Was he calling? That piercing squeak noise, and the "plonk" which I understand he makes with his feet is quite remarkable.
    Nice post.

  3. Always an interesting duck to see Mosura, the biggest concentration I've seen was seventy five odd on a relatively small area of a saline lake here in Gippsland.

  4. Thank you Fren_ace - Nice of you to pop in. Glad you like them.

    Thank you Mick - That's true - they will remind me of the time I couldn't get close enough to the Musk Ducks (just kiddin')

    Thank you Denis - No I couldn't here it calling but it was a long way out on the water and down wind.

    Thank you Duncan - 75 odd Musk Ducks! (Mind you all Musk Ducks look odd) That would be an impressive sight.

  5. Thats one strange duck Mosura! interesting none the less. pics are ok, what you on about? Good as anything I take!!

  6. Musk Duck was one of my target birds to see in Aus and we did get to see a couple, can't recall where right now though. Such characterful birds I think.

  7. Thanks Warren - Yep - very strange. As for photos, I tend to be critical of my own photos. Always aiming to improve.

    Thanks Jenny - You got to see them see them - That's great!