Musk Duck (Biziura lobata)

Musk Duck

[order] ANSERIFORMES | [family] Anatidae | [latin] Biziura lobata | [authority] Shaw, 1796 | [UK] Musk Duck | [FR] Erismature a barbillons | [DE] Lappenente | [ES] Malvasia de Papada | [NL] Australische Muskuseend


Monotypic species


Biziura is a genus of stiff-tailed ducks endemic to Australasia and containing one living and one fossil species.

Physical charateristics

The male Musk Duck is the largest of Australia’s ducks and has a powerful build. Musk Ducks get their name from the strong musk odour produced from a gland on the rump. The female is smaller than the male. Both male and female Musk Ducks are sooty-brown in plumage, with paler brown barring on the body and fine spots of the head. They are paler below, becoming whiter towards the abdomen. The male is decorated with a large bulbous lobe of skin hanging under his bill. This sac increases in size at the start of the breeding season. The female also has a much-reduced lobe on the underside of its bill, only visible at a short distance. The bill is dark grey in both sexes and the eye dark brown. The tail is a collection of long, stiff feathers, which can be held in a fan-shape. Young Musk Ducks are similar to the adult female, but are paler, with a dull yellow tip on bill, and no lobe

wingspan min.: 68 cm wingspan max.: 76 cm
size min.: 65 cm size max.: 68 cm
incubation min.: 22 days incubation max.: 26 days
fledging min.: 0 days fledging max.: 0 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 3  
      eggs max.: 5  


Australasia : Southwest, Southeast Australia. Western and south-eastern Australia, Tasmania and Kangaroo Island.


Musk Ducks tend to be found in deep freshwater lagoons, with dense reed beds. They are normally seen singly or in pairs, but may form medium to large groups in the winter. Flight usually takes place at night. The birds’ bulky size means a large distance is required for take off, and the landing is often quite clumsy.


The male Musk Duck has an energetic courtship display. He raises and fans the tail over the back, inflates the lobe on the throat, splashes water with vigorous kicks of his feet and throws his head back while uttering a loud whistle. This display is performed for long periods at a time, both night and day. The nest is a large cup of trampled vegetation, loosely lined with fine grasses and feathers, and is hidden in dense reeds. One clutch of 3-5 eggs is laid each year which are incubated for 3-4 weeks. Cared for by female, who provides food from her bill. Ducklings sometimes ride on the mother’s back and are highly dependent on the mother for food.

Feeding habits

Despite their bulky appearance, Musk Ducks are excellent divers, and search underwater for the majority of their food. They mainly feed on animals, including aquatic insects, crustaceans, snails, shellfish, fish, frogs and ducklings, but some seeds of aquatic plants are also eaten on occasion.

Video Musk Duck


copyright: payamostovar


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not 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). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to 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.
Males are promiscuous and polygamous. Dominant drakes display in territories.
Musk Duck status Least Concern


Not migratory but move depending on habitat and water levels

Distribution map

Musk Duck distribution range map

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