Living with Ducks

Tasmania is home to 11 species of native duck. Many fill differing niches throughout the state, providing a great introductory opportunity to bird spotting. They can be found in and around our waterways including rivers, natural wetlands, estuaries, lakes and farm dams and even sewage settling ponds or dairy effluent ponds.  They even occur in bushland where Wood Duck, Australian Shelduck, Grey Teal, Chestnut Teal and often Pacific Black Duck, nest in tree hollows. These hollows may be a few kilometres away from the nearest water body.  

What is a native duck?

Australian Wood Duck (or Maned Duck) Chenonetta jubata
Chestnut Teal Anas castanea
Grey Teal Anas gracilis
Pacific Black Duck Anas superciliosa
Australian Shelduck (or Mountain Duck) Tadorna tadornoides
Hardhead (or White-eyed Duck) Aythya australis
Australasian Shoveler Anas rhynchotis
Musk Duck Biziura lobata
Blue-billed Duck Oxyura australis
Freckled Duck Stictonetta naevosa
Pink-eared Duck Malacorhynchus membranaceus

What is a domestic duck?

Domestic ducks include Muscovy and Mallard. Feral introduced domestic ducks also make up part of Tasmania’s duck population.

Problems and Solutions

Ducks can be a nuisance to some farmers by grazing crops and newly sewn pasture. Additionally, they may foul pasture and watering points with their faeces. Overall, however, the damage done to crops by ducks is often localised or occurs over a very short timeframe. 

Native ducks are protected under Tasmania's legislation. This means it is an offence to take or have in possession a protected native duck unless authorised by a permit, or recreational duck hunting licence. To prevent the destruction of crops, a Property Protection Permit​ can be issued to landowners to take partly protected and protected wildlife, including Tasmanian native ducks, in specific circumstances. 


Mallard ducks are classified as domestic stock under the Nature Conservation Act 2002 and are technically someone’s property. Feral ducks on private and public land are the responsibility of the owner of the ducks, or the landowner on which the ducks reside.  

The Pacific Black Duck Conservation Group is a volunteer group within Landcare Tasmania. One aim of the PBDCG is to assist councils in the management of dumped domestic mallards by gathering working groups and removing them with community support, including occasional working bees.

Local council campaigns to reduce feral ducks have previously attracted public controversy. 

Domestic geese have the same legal status as domestic ducks and therefore their management is the same. 

NRE Tas can be contacted on 03 6165 4305 for advice for those concerned about native ducks on their property.

Roles and Values

  • They are important prey for many predators including quolls, Tasmanian devils, Swamp harriers and other raptors, and snakes.
  • Ducks are as typical of our waterways as seabirds are of our beaches. Their noise is simply part of our natural setting.

Why there is concern for the survival of our Pacific Black Duck

Hybridisation or crossbreeding of the introduced Mallard is a threat to our native ducks, in particular to the Pacific Black Duck (PBD). Hybridisation has resulted in the near extinction of duck species around the world.

Pacific Black Duck
​​Our native Pacific Black Duck (PBD). 

PBDs have dull greenish yellow brown legs, a facial pattern or two dark stripes, and two buff stripes, and their speculum (the coloured patch in the wings) is iridescent purple or green.

Mallard
Mallard PBD hybrid.
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Note the orange feet and mottled bill. Mallards are also bulkier, have less distinct facial stripes and have a blue-purple speculum with white borders. The male of the introduced mallard and mallard hybrids possess the characteristic ‘curled’ duck tail.  Of all the native duck species in Tasmania, only the Australasian shoveler possesses orange legs. 

Duck populations in Tasmania are a mix of wild and domestic mallards. Mallards are bigger and more aggressive than native duck species, and when there is a stable food and water source (bread, grain, lettuce, tubs of water etc.), their numbers can explode. This is bad news for our smaller, more timid native ducks. It doesn’t take long for mallards to push out the smaller natives, who cannot compete with their numbers and size.

Conservation: How You Can Help

Don’t feed the ducks! 

Feeding ducks can lead to health, behavioural and environmental issues. Ducks are more than capable of finding their own natural food that supports a healthy diet, and healthy population sizes. Feeding ducks unnatural diets can cause nutritional deficiencies which can result in conditions such as Angel wing. The increased populations of ducks caused by regular feeding can also cause increased fouling of waterways which, in turn, increases the chances of botulism.  Ducks that are regularly fed may also become aggressive towards people, particularly children, in their attempts to demand food.

How should I interact with our ducks?

Instead of feeding your local ducks, why not sit by the bank of your local waterway and watch their behaviours. You can even practice identifying the species present using an identification guide. Kids have a keen eye and will enjoy playing ‘spot the difference’! 

Responsible keeping of domestic ducks

Adequately contain domestic ducks to prevent them becoming feral and breeding with native ducks. Consider switching to Muscovy ducks which do not crossbreed with native ducks.​

If you find an injured native duck

If you find an injured or orphaned native duck, please call Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary on 0447 264 625. You can visit our page on Injured and Orphaned Wildlife​ and Reporting sick, injured or dead wildlife in Tasmania​ for further information.

Identifying ducks 

If you are uncertain of the species of duck you are looking at, here are some great resources to assist you to quickly identify the species.

Ducks – native & introduced | Derwent Estuary Program

Ducks of Glenorchy | Glenorchy City Council (gcc.tas.gov.au)

Ducks of Hobart - City of Hobart, Tasmania Australia (hobartcity.com.au)