Topic: Grey Duck

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The Grey Duck, also known as Parera, has the 2008 National Threat Category of Nationally Critical. Found at the Te Arai Stream and surrounding lakes.

Photo by C.D.Roderick

Grey Duck (Anas superciliosa)

A plump bird weighing on average over a kilogram (male 1100 grams, female 1000grams).  Similar in appearance to the female Mallard, the Grey Duck can be distinguished by the colour of its speculum, or wing patch.  The Grey Duck has a green speculum while the Mallard’s is blue to purple.  The Grey duck also has three distinct stripes running from its beak to the tip of its head or a ‘zebra face’.Lastly unlike the Mallard, the male Grey Duck is no more colourful than the female.

Range and Habitat

Grey Ducks prefer small lakes, slow flowing rivers and tidal water surrounded by forest rather than farmland.  Found in wetlands throughout New Zealand including many offshore islands such as the Kermadecs, Chatham, Antipodes, The Snares, Auckland and Campbell Islands.


Pair formation begins in Autumn and by July most Grey Ducks have paired off and the males defending their territory.  The nest is a bowl of grasses and reeds lined with the bird’s own feathers for insulation.  Between August and November the ducks begin their first clutch and may re-nest up until the end of December.  Up to 13 pale green - cream eggs are laid in a single clutch, the female laying an egg each day around dawn. Incubation takes 28 days.  Young can fly after 60 days. Adults feed on seeds and aquatic vegetation.  Females when forming eggs and ducklings also eat small snails, insect larvae, water beetles and crabs.

Threats Habitat loss, predation, hunting and inter-breeding with the introduced Mallard.
Conservation The Grey Duck is partially protected but is still legally harvested during duck shooting season.

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