Pink-eared Duck (Malacorhynchus membranaceus)

Pink-eared Duck

[order] ANSERIFORMES | [family] Anatidae | [latin] Malacorhynchus membranaceus | [authority] Latham, 1801 | [UK] Pink-eared Duck | [FR] Canard a oreilles roses | [DE] Rosenohr-Ente | [ES] Pato Pachon | [NL] Lepelbekeend


Monotypic species


It is the only living member of the genus Malacorhynchus; a closely related, but slightly larger extinct form from New Zealand was described as Scarlett’s Duck (Malacorhynchus scarletti). This peculiar duck may be most closely related to the shelducks but its relationships are enigmatic. It may be closer to the Musk Duck and the stiff-tails and, formerly placed in the paraphyletic “perching ducks” it is in any case not close to the dabbling ducks. The Pink-eared Duck in Australia is a species of the inland plains with a Very strong preference for the shallow open expanses of residual floodwater or rain-filled claypans, but small groups do live and breed in some permanent swamps.

Physical charateristics

In flight, the head is held high with the heavy bill angled downward. The species has a light underbody, white trailing edges on upperwing and tail and a white crescent on the rump. The wings are rounded. On the water, a small, light-coloured duck floating high with zebra stripes on body, a large bill and distinctive forehead. The male and female have a similar appearance.

wingspan min.: 57 cm wingspan max.: 71 cm
size min.: 36 cm size max.: 45 cm
incubation min.: 24 days incubation max.: 28 days
fledging min.: 0 days fledging max.: 0 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 4  
      eggs max.: 8  


Australasia : Australia. The Pink-eared Duck is widely distributed throughout inland south-eastern Australia and south-western Australia,


The Pink-eared Duck is found in timbered areas near water. It prefers shallow, temporary waters, however open wetlands support large flocks. It is a highly dispersive and nomadic species.


Breeding can take place all year round and is dependant on floodwaters. The nest is a rounded mass of down placed in a hollow or on a stump above the water. Pink-eared Ducks usually take over nests built by other birds, especially the Eurasian Coot, Fulica atra, and the Black-tailed Native Hen, Gallinula ventralis. Pink-eared Ducks form monogamous, probably life-long pair-bonds. The female incubates the 6-8 eggs for about 26 days. Both parents brood the young.

Feeding habits

Pink-eared Ducks feed in shallow warmish waters. The highly specialised bill is fringed with fine lamellae (grooves) to filter out the microscopic plants and animals which make up the bulk of its diet.

Video Pink-eared Duck


copyright: Nick Talbot


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). 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 is extremely large, and hence does not 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.
Pink-eared Duck status Least Concern


Pink-eared Ducks are birds of the inland swamps and will fly great distances in search of water. Huge flocks often reach the coast in dry years

Distribution map

Pink-eared Duck distribution range map

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *