The blue-billed duck is omnivorous, with a preference for small aquatic invertebrates. Pleistocene fossils of Ruddy Ducks, at least 11,000 years old, have been unearthed in Oregon, California, Virginia, Florida, and Illinois. Its head is dark brown, and the back and wings consist of black feathers with a light-brown tip, giving a mottled appearance, although the National Parks and Wildlife publication[5] on O. australis refers to bands on each feather rather than a single feather-tip colouration. [7], The blue-billed duck is listed as threatened on the Victorian Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act (1988). The female retains black plumage with brown tips all year round. The male duck exhibits a complex mating ritual. Blue-billed Ducks breed in secluded, densely vegetated situations with the nest constructed in cumbungi (bullrushes, Typha sp.) The shy ruddy duck who conceals itself in cattails…the fast-flying canvasback… or the boisterous Canada goose. Ruddy Ducks are very aggressive toward each other and toward other species, especially during the breeding season. [13] Under this Act, an Action Statement for the recovery and future management of this species has been prepared. The male has a slate-blue bill which changes to bright-blue during the breeding season, hence the duck's common name. These are: the regulation of wetland ecosystems through drainage, flood mitigation and water harvesting; and vegetation loss due to clearing, overgrazing and salinity. [9] The incubation is 26 to 28 days. Year-long sedentary adult breeding is confirmed by the observation that the laying period of ducks in captivity is continuous, reflecting “opportunistic breeding”. The species is also widespread in the south west of Western Australia. One 1926 account states, “Its intimate habits, its stupidity, its curious nesting customs and ludicrous courtship performance place it in a niche by itself…. The female retains black plumage with brown tips all year round. [2] Blue-billed ducks can stay underwater for 10 seconds on average while feeding. Ruddy Ducks get harassed by Horned Grebes, Pied-billed Grebes, and American Coots during the breeding season. Immature blue-billed ducks resemble the adult female, though paler with a grey-green bill. Yearlings in captivity were observed to be able to breed. Any long-term decrease in the duck's population would therefore be caused by habitat loss through factors such as salinity and overgrazing more so than drought. The bright colors and odd behavior of male Ruddy Ducks drew attention from early naturalists, though they didn’t pull any punches. Ruddy Ducks are compact, thick-necked waterfowl with seemingly oversized tails that they habitually hold upright. Because of this, these little divers often look like gray-brown or chestnut blobs with a long, rounded tail (for a duck, anyway) held up at an angle. [3] During non-breeding season, many ducks gather in flocks totalling several hundred,[8] especially juveniles and younger adults, in open lakes or dams in autumn and winter, far from the shore. [3] Large clutch sizes indicate two females laying eggs in the one nest. Marchant and Higgins[3] discredits this regular yearly migration, due to juveniles and young adults searching for new breeding grounds, especially on the fringes of the duck's range, with mature breeding adults often remaining. The blue-billed duck has a low quack, which is seldom heard. While they have been observed on land, they have difficulty walking,[2] exhibiting a penguin-like gait. O. australis rarely appears on the New South Wales coastline except during times of drought. [3] The female's plumage does not change throughout the year. Look for Ruddy Ducks from fall through spring on open water, both inland and in protected coastal areas such as harbors and small bays. Outdoor Canada’s long-time hunting editor Ken Bailey has travelled all over Canada—and the world—with rifle, shotgun and fly rod in hand. The blue-billed duck is endemic to Australia's temperate regions. During the day, they often sleep with their heads tucked, and they gather in tight flocks. Find many great new & used options and get the best deals for Capt Jess Urie Signed Wooden Painted Duck Decoy Miniature Rock Hall MD Vintage at the best online prices at … [2][3], The behaviour of O. australis depends on its breeding cycle. Ruddy Ducks lay big, white, pebbly-textured eggs—the largest of all duck eggs relative to body size. Duck Identification Guide: All the Types of Ducks With Pictures. This widespread duck breeds mostly in the prairie pothole region of North America and winters in wetlands throughout the U.S. and Mexico. The Australian population of blue-billed ducks is estimated to be 12 000, although the creation of artificial wetlands such as water treatment works disguise the number occurring in natural wetlands. Although abundant in summer, few people get a glimpse of them. [3][6] Its range extends from southern Queensland, through New South Wales and Victoria, to Tasmania. They court females by beating their bill against their neck hard enough to create a swirl of bubbles in the water.