|Photo by Dick Daniels (Wikipedia)|
freckled duck (en); pato-sardento (pt); sitctonette tachetée (fr); pato pecoso (es); affenente (de)
This species is found in wetlands in south-eastern and south-western Australia.
These birds are 48-59 cm long and have a wingspan of 75-85 cm. They weigh 0,8-1 kg.
The frecked duck is mostly found in permanent fresh water swamps and creeks with heavy growth of bullrushes, Lignum or tea tree. During droughts they also use ephemeral swamps, lakes, reservoirs and sewerage ponds.
They feed at dawn, dusk and during the night, taking on algae, seeds and vegetative parts of aquatic grasses and sedges, and small invertebrates.
Freckled ducks breed mainly in September-December, but it varies with rainfall. The nest is made from finely woven twigs with a layer of down, and placed among dense vegetation at or near water level. The female lays 5-14 eggs which she incubates alone for 28 days. The chicks leave the nest soon after hatching but remain with their mother until fledging which takes place about 9 weeks after hatching.
IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a relatively small and fragmented breeding range and the global population is estimated at 7.300-17.000 individuals. The population trend is suspected to be fluctuating, being strongly influenced by drought cycles. During times of inland drought, when they are found closer to the coast, freckled ducks are at risk of being misidentified as game species and shot by duck-hunters. The main threat at present are the plans to extract water from the Paroo River and Cooper's Creek, which would affect the flooding of critical inland swamps. For the time being these plans have been shelved, however, should they proceed, it is estimated that the resulting reduction in habitat quality could cause a 20% population decline within 15 years.