Bird of the week – Hardhead Aythya australis

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The Hardhead is a medium-sized duck. It is usually seen swimming in large ponds and swamps. The female’s call is a croak and the male’s call is a whistle.

What the Hardhead looks like

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The Hardhead is 45-60 cm in length. It is dark brown with a white patch on its breast and white feathers under its tail. The male has a black beak with a blue-grey bar on the tip, white eyes and grey feet. The female has a black beak with a pale blue-grey bar near the tip, brown eyes and grey feet.

Where the Hardhead lives

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The Hardhead lives in most parts of Australia, except for the hottest, driest parts. It also lives in Indonesia and New Guinea. It is found in freshwater swamps.

What the Hardhead eats

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The Hardhead eats water plants and their seeds, mussels and shellfish. It feeds by diving under the water.

How the Hardhead breeds

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Hardheads form pairs in the breeding season.

The adults breed in spring, especially after there are heavy rains. The adults mate.

The female lays nine to twelve eggs in a nest of plants and sticks built in very dense plants. She sits on the eggs to keep them warm.

The chicks hatch after three and a half to four and a half weeks.

The chicks grow into adults.

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