Freckled Duck

Stictonetta naevosa

Freckled Ducks. Photo: John Spiers

Freckled Ducks are unusual and seem to be more closely related to swans and geese than ducks. They are uncommon and protected throughout Australia.

Freckled Duck. Photo: John Gitsham

Freckled Ducks feed on algae, seeds and the green parts of aquatic plants plus a small proportion of aquatic invertebrates. They forage by upending in shallow water, bottom filtering, dabbling and wading along the shore. The dive only to escape or when bathing.

Depending upon water conditions Freckled Ducks mainly breed in spring and early summer.


The plumage is speckled and dark brown, almost black at a distance. The shape of the head with a slight crest on the crown and a heavy base to the bill is diagnostic. In the breeding season males have a bright red base to the bill which fades to dull red out of the breeding season. The rest of the bill is slate-grey. Females are slightly smaller than males and have lighter plumage. Their entire bill is slate-grey all year.

Where to find it

Freckled Ducks like freshwater lakes and marshes with lots of vegetation, both fringing and emergent. Out of the breeding season they may be found on flood plains and on coastal lagoons, even where the water is brackish or saline, but not on marine or estuarine habitats. Look for them in the south-east of South Austrlia, on the Fleurieu and on ephemeral lakes in the interior. They may disperse more widely in good seasons.