Versatile dabbling duck

If you are walking along wetlands and spot some tail feathers and feet sticking up out of the water, then you may have just come across a dabbling Pacific Black Duck (Anas superciliosa) known as ‘Yet’ in the Noongar language.

The Pacific Black Duck is one of the most versatile Australian ducks.1 They are common throughout the country, residing in freshwater and moderately saline wetlands, estuaries and sheltered coastal areas. You can observe them around the Perth hills in dams, swamps and waterways, as well as on the coastal plain. They prefer to nest on the ground or in tree stumps and hollows around wetland areas.2

Despite their name, the Pacific Black Duck is predominantly a mid-brown colour. They have a characteristic dark brown line from the top of their beak up across their eyes, with cream colouring above and below, and a dark brown bill.4 Among their feathers, they have a bright glossy green patch in their secondary flight feathers. Adults grow between 50 and 60 cm in length.2

pacific-blackImage: Naomi Rakela

These ducks are mainly vegetarian, feeding off aquatic plants and seeds, although their diet is occasionally supplemented with aquatic insects and small invertebrates. They ‘dabble’ for food, by plunging their upper bodies in water, leaving their rear ends vertically out of the water.3 They are usually spotted in pairs or small flocks, and readily mix with other duck species.4

The Pacific Black Duck coincides mating with the availability of food and water, often waiting for the onset of heavy rains or when waterways are at their peak volume.4 Courtship between these ducks is often initiated by the female, so be on the look-out for any preening, bobbing and wing-flapping displays.5


Distribution map of the Pacific Black Duck.
Map: Department of Parks and Wildlife.


Download the ‘Should I feed the ducks?’ information sheet.



1 iNSiGHT Ornithology

2 Department of Parks and Wildlife

3 Australian Museum

4 Birds in Backyards

5 Planet of Birds