This duck, aka the Radjah Shelduck, has an almost magical aura. It is extremely shy, and extremely fast to get out of the way of humans (for a duck) and so unless you are a serious bird watcher, you're lucky to see one at all. I remember as a child, the adults that dragged me around driving for several hours on just the rumour that one of these beautiful animals had been seen in a billabong somewhere.
The main reason for the mystique is the duck's colouring, which both the male and female of the species share. If you are fortunate enough to see one in flight from below, the dark wingtips and distinctive black "necklace" will be stunning enough. If, however, you somehow get above one in flight, a rare treat awaits. Burdekins have startlingly green bands on the top of their wings that are framed in white. It's almost like an insignia of some kind. I have crawled up countless hills in silence, trying to get above a Burdekin as it took off from the water. I have only once succeeded, but the sight made every previous sweaty climb worth it. On the water or on land, the Burdekin Duck appears as a fairly non-descript medium-sized duck with a white head, neck and belly and a dark brown back.
One of the ways you can tell you're on to something on a Burdekin shoot is to listen for their distinctive call. The Burdekin Duck is, strangely for creatures so timid, very vocal. The female has a harsh rattle (harsh as in "Oh! Something's really really wrong with the car!") and the male has a breathy, sore-throat whistle.
Distribution and Habitat
The Burdekin Duck is found in coastal tropical northern Australia from central Queensland through the top part of the Northern Territory (including Kakadu National Park) to the Kimberlys in Western Australia, particularly throughout the mangrove flats and paperbark tree swamps. The species prefers brackish waters but will visit freshwater swamps, lagoons, and billabongs further inland during the wet season.
The Burdekin Duck is now fully protected in all states of Australia and extremely harsh penalties exist for shooting, otherwise harming, or even disturbing them. Unfortunately they are still hunted.
Usually seen in lone pairs or in (very) small flocks, the Burdekin forms long-term pair-bonds. During the wet season the males become very cranky and have been known to attack their mates.
They eat mostly mollusks, insects, sedge
materials and algae. Pairs start searching for nesting sites during the months of January and February. The nests are typically as near the water as possible, a scan of their eating habits will tell you why. They look for safety in the hollow limbs of trees, and so habitat destruction is a big issue, as it is for all creatures who use the hollows of trees for homes. Burdekins don’t use nesting materials except for some self-supplied down feathers. Egg-laying is usually done by May or June, but it depends on the extent of the wet season. The clutches range from 6 to 12 eggs. Incubation time is about 30 days.
Scientific Name: Tadorna
Noded in response to Suggestion 8 of This place needs more actual content. Let's begin.
& my memory.