The Musk Duck derives its common name from the peculiar musky odour it emanates during the breeding season. Musk ducks are moderately common through the Murray-Darling and Cooper Creek basins, and in the wetter, fertile areas in the south of the continent: the southwest corner of Western Australia, Victoria, and Tasmania.
Appearance: – The male Musk Duck during the breeding season has a black crown and nape, slightly paler cheeks, brown eyes, a black stout beak with a large fleshy lobe underneath, the body is brown-black with a slight pinstripe plumage, a whitish abdomen, black tail and flight feathers, and legs and feet are blackish-grey. The female is very similar but smaller and without the fleshy lobe under the beak which is also missing on the male during its non-breeding plumage.
Size: – Typical Adult is 24-28 inches.
Food: – Aquatic insects, crustaceans, molluscs, small fish, and aquatic plants.
Habitat: – Deep freshwater lakes, wetlands, swamps, marshes,and coastline in Western and south-eastern Australia, Tasmania and Kangaroo Island.
Breeding Season: – From July to January (mainly September to October) but varies depending on rainfall and water levels.
Eggs: – 2 to 3 (pale greenish-white or buff color).
Notes: – The Musk Duck is an Australian stiff-tail duck. It likes to dive in deep water to feed and will rarely fly, preferring to stay in the water to escape any predators.
The different types of wild ducks can be grouped into puddle, aka “dabbling” and diving ducks. The dabblers mostly feed in smaller bodies of shallow water or along shorelines, where they are able to tip their bodies forward to reach their food on the bottom. There are divers who feed in deeper water where they dive and pursue their quarry. Some of these birds, the Harlequin Duck for example, actually dives to the bottom of fast-flowing waters and feeds on life forms attached to rocks.