Freckled Duck (Stictonetta naevosa)

Freckled Duck

[order] ANSERIFORMES | [family] Anatidae | [latin] Stictonetta naevosa | [authority] Gould, 1841 | [UK] Freckled Duck | [FR] Stictonette tachetee | [DE] Affengans | [ES] Pato Moteado | [NL] Stippeleend


Monotypic species


The Freckled Duck species was formerly allied with the dabbling ducks, but is now placed in a monotypic subfamily Stictonettinae. It appears to be part of a Gondwanan radiation of waterfowl, before true ducks evolved.

Physical charateristics

The Freckled Duck is a dark, greyish-brown bird with a large head that is peaked at the rear, and a distinctive narrow, slightly up-turned bill. Their dark brownish-black plumage is evenly freckled all over with white or buff. During the winter-spring breeding season, the male?s bill becomes crimson at the base.

wingspan min.: 0 cm wingspan max.: 0 cm
size min.: 50 cm size max.: 55 cm
incubation min.: 26 days incubation max.: 31 days
fledging min.: 60 days fledging max.: 66 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 5  
      eggs max.: 9  


Australasia : Southeast, Southwest Australia. This species has been recorded from wetlands across southern Australia, with major concentrations in the Paroo-Warrego catchment (Currawinya Lakes), Eyre-Georgine-Mulligan catchment (Lake Torquinie) and possibly at Lake Galilee. Other inland sites where substantial numbers have been recorded include Cooper’s Creek and Bulloo River catchments, the wetlands of the Barkly Tablelands, and Lake Gregory in the central-north of Western Australia.


Prefer permanent freshwater swamps and creeks with heavy growth of Cumbungi, Lignum or Tea-tree. During drier times they move from ephemeral breeding swamps to more permanent waters such as lakes, reservoirs, farm dams and sewage ponds.


Nesting usually occurs between October and December but can take place at other times when conditions are favourable. Nests are usually located in dense vegetation at or near water level and are made from finely woven twigs with a layer of down. Males remain with females during early incubation, but the female does all of the incubation and rearing of the young. THe clutch size is 5-9 eggs which are incubated for about a month. The young fledge after about 9 weeks.

Feeding habits

Generally rest in dense cover during the day, usually in deep water. Feed at dawn and dusk and at night on algae, seeds and vegetative parts of aquatic grasses and sedges and small invertebrates

Video Freckled Duck


copyright: Josep del Hoyo


Although this species may have a small range, it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be fluctuating, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size may be moderately small to large, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
During times of inland drought, when found closer to the coast, birds are at risk of being misidentified as game species and shot by duck-hunters. Although no correlation between S. naevosa abundance and hunting effort has yet been identified. Plans to extract water from the Paroo River and Cooper’s Creek, which would affect the flooding of critical inland swamps, constitute the greatest current threat. For the time being these plans have been shelved, however, should they proceed, it is estimated that the resulting reduction in habitat quality could cause a 20% population decline within three generations (c.15 years)
Freckled Duck status Least Concern


The Freckled Duck is forced to disperse during long inland droughts. The species may occur as far south as coastal New South Wales and Victoria during such times.

Distribution map

Freckled Duck distribution range map

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