Hardhead Aythya australis

This page is a chapter in the book Ducks, geese, and swans.
Scientific Classification
Species:A. Australis
Binomial name
Aythya australis

Beautiful brown diving duck.


The Hardhead is a medium sized duck mainly chocolate brown in colour, with white undertail coverts and black bill with white or pale blue-grey patch near tip. Males have white eyes while females have brown.

[top]Behavioural characteristics

Feeds on surface of water or dives for around half a minute, feeding on aquatic life and plants. Usually singly or in pairs, although sometimes congregates in large groups. Can be quite wary and are strong fliers. Often silent and can go unnoticed because of its unobtrusive nature.

[top]Distribution and habitat

Widespread over most of country except most arid areas. Prefers deeper wetlands and lakes but also floodwaters, farm dams and sewage ponds.


Concentrated in spring.


Male whistles, female makes rasping call.

[top]Where to find

Any permanent wetlands can hold these ducks.

[top]Photographic Tips

Best photographed on lakes/ponds in parks and gardens as birds become much tamer when used to human foot traffic. Otherwise quite hard to photograph on larger lakes etc.


Hardhead, Melbourne, VicHardhead, Melbourne, Vic
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