This week, since my camera is still in the hospital having surgery, I wanted to showcase many of our Australian duck species and how they each dine differently, even though they spend most of their lives on or near fresh water lakes, rivers and swamps. It is all about the bill and how it has been constructed as to the cuisine of each species. There remain many uninformed who mistakenly think Australian native ducks eat fish as their main diet, because species in the northern hemisphere do. However, each duck species uses its own particular means along with its own peculiar bill structure to obtain its own particular food source as granted them by Intelligent Design. In other words duck species in Australia vary considerably in their main food sources and how they obtain them.
1. The Dabbling Ducks: These ducks mainly feed along the perimeter of lakes and rivers in the shallows, dabbling on whatever they can find that is edible. They are often seen bottom up when feeding in the water. These include the Chestnut Teal, Grey Teal and Pacific Black Duck. They mainly feed on aquatic plants, seeds, insects in the water and along the shoreline. Grey Teal and Pacific Black Duck are our most numerous ducks. The rarer endangered Freckled Duck (which has been seen in NSW in recent years due to drought etc) and the Radjah Shelduck of Far North Queensland and NT are also basically dabblers.
Pacific Black Duck showing speculum
2. The Diving Ducks: These ducks dive below the water surface to obtain food such as aquatic plants and animals, particularly mussels and freshwater shellfish. They have a stronger bill structure. The Hardhead is a smooth diving duck (the male has the white eye). The Blue-billed Duck will dive but also eats many kinds of insects and some shoreline plants. The unusual Musk Duck is the second heaviest diving duck in the world. The Wandering Whistling Duck spends its time mainly on water diving and dabbling.
The Blue-billed Duck and Musk Duck spend almost their entire life on the water, rarely walking on land, they even sleep on the water.
3. Grazing Ducks: These include ducks that mainly feed on the land in pastures and along the shore on insects, seeds and plants. This includes the Australian Wood Duck, Plumed Whistling Duck, and Australian Shelduck (pictured in flight also on feature photo). These ducks may also dabble waterside but they feed mainly on grassy areas.
4. The Filter Ducks: The Pink-eared Duck and Australasian Shoveler are our unique filter billed ducks, and are often seen working alongside each other. These ducks rely on their unique shovel like bill structure to obtain their food which is made up primarily of tiny aquatic organisms and insects which it filters out through grooves on the edges of the bill. The excess water drains through the bill and the organisms are captured. They also feed on aquatic plants from the bottom of the lake. They feed by disturbing the shallow silt lake floor and then filtering out and trapping their food. They use several ways of stirring up the lake bottom. They may do it themselves by bottoming up and stirring it up with their feet. They may do it as a pair or in a line of three or more where one follows the other close behind. They may as group of up to 12 ducks use their unique vortexing technique, where they swim around in a tight circle with heads below water tightly following each other. This enables every duck the advantage of feeding simultaneously.
5. The Goose-like Ducks: The Pygmy-Goose is the smallest duck and has a goose like bill, hence its name. These ducks are basically surface dabblers but are only found in the tropics in northern Queensland, northern NT and north of Australia. The two species are not endemic and are seldom seen on land. The Cotton Pygmy-Goose is often difficult to see as it is shy of humans and remains in centre of lakes.
So there we have it, most of our Aussie freshwater ducks. Some of the above dabblers can tolerate brackish water. Below is an interesting photo. See how many different species you see.
The Pink-eared Ducks preening on the waters edge (they are typically a flock bird so you will usually see many). With them stand a pair of rarely seen endangered Freckled Duck, photographed inland NSW. One sleeps as one keeps watch. In the water foreground are three Australasian Shovelers. Notice the male leading the line has his head out of the water as he stirs up the water on the lake bottom with his feet and moves forward feeding from the surface while keeping watch ahead. The female and male following behind with heads submerged are filtering the stirred up sediment for food.
These different kinds of feeding techniques can be likened to us humans in the way we feed our lives or more so our minds which control our lives. We can ask ourselves: ‘Am I a dabbler, a diver, a filterer or a grazer ?’. The easy access to modern media and its concurrent internet addiction has resulted in our duck like feeding behaviour.
As a dabbler: or a flicker as I call them, one is seen flicking through all the latest news and media feeds each spare moment, stopping occasionally to ingest something that catches the eye or gives a laugh, but never gaining anything much of great significance for life;
As a diver: One dives straight to the bottom of the dark cold media lake where the smut and mud lies looking for tasty morsels of corruption and disreputable or even immoral material;
As a grazer: One is more selective of their sources and mainly only go to their familiar sites and generally only use the internet to find what they want. They feed on land clear of the media pond most of the time. However, they do indulge themselves at times to explore the media and get hooked at times in their occasional need to escape their boredom of solid ground where they may use online television channels and other media productions.
As a filterer: One is careful to filter what they process in their minds, by quickly filtering out and not allowing themselves to be caught or trapped in the media lake. They filter out all the excess water and only take in what is good and nourishing for life, a positive enjoyable good life. They choose, not the media, what they digest and remain free from the propaganda of the news and popular opinion that is fed to the masses. This requires determined self control, alertness and awareness that there is an enemy at work behind the scenes attempting to subvert, mislead and hold us in the media lake.
Would you be surprised to know that ducks can actually drown? Yes, if a duck spends too much time in the water it may loose its waterproof oil covering and sink like a stone to the bottom. This illustrates what I am sharing here, and why we may need to have a serious talk to our children, grandchildren and possibly ourselves.
‘Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.’ – 1 Peter 5:8
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Have an enjoyable week and stay safe! We are enjoying and giving thanks for the torrential rain we received recently, that after much prayer came unexpected since the gloomy long range forecasts saw none imminent.
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