Pacific Black Duck

Anas superciliosa

Pacific Black Duck with ducklings. Photo: John Gitsham

Pacific Black Ducks are mainly vegetarians, feeding on aquatic and fringe vegetation. They also feed on animals such as molluscs, freshwater crayfish, and aquatic insects and their larvae. Food is obtained, mainly at night, by dabbling on the surface, upending and grazing, with occasional shallow dives.

Black Duck. Photo: John Gitsham

In South Australia, breeding can start as early as June and continue as late as February. They nest in pairs. Incubation is by the female while the male guards. The nests may be in tree holes, in old nests of other waterbirds or on the ground. The clutch is usually 7 to 12 eggs, with an average of 5 reach the flying stage.

Pacific Black Ducks are mainly sedentary but disperse in drought years to wetter areas.


The face with its bold dark streaks against a pale background, is distinctive. The body colour ranges from brown to black with pale buff edges to the feathers. The speculum is green with broad black borders. The legs are a dirty orange-yellow. The sexes are similar. Females have a browner crown, back and rump, resulting in a greater contrast between feathers and their edges. Juveniles resemble adults but are more streaked on neck and chest, until their first moult at three months. There is no eclipse plumage. Individuals are not always pure members of the species though as they hybridise readily with the introduced Mallard, Anas platyrhynchos, resulting in a 'hybrid' appearance.

Where to find it

Pacific Black Ducks are found throughout South Australia except the arid areas in the west. They may be found in almost any form of wetland, pond, dam, sewage pond, channel or river. They particularly favour sites that are small, well-vegetated and of low salinity.

Pacific Black Ducks are arguably the most common duck species in Australia, found throughout the country, and in surrounding islands and countries, including Indonesia, Malaysia, New Guinea and New Zealand.