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Freckled Duck (Stictonetta naevosa) Fact Sheet: Distribution & Habitat


Endemic to Australia

(Birdlife International 2016)

  • Occur mainly in southwestern and southeastern Australia, particularly inland New South Wales (Frith 1965; Marchant and Higgins 1990; Birdlife International 2016)
  • Breed in (and are resident to) limited areas of the Murray–Darling Basin and southwestern West Australia (Johnsgard 2010)
    • When not breeding, range more widely (Frith 1965)
      • Present in many parts of inland Australia during dry season
  • Infrequent in Tasmania (Carboneras and Kirwan 2018)
  • Periodically common on Kangaroo Island (Carboneras and Kirwan 2018)


Freshwater habitats with heavy vegetation

(Frith 1967; Carboneras and Kirwan 2018, except as noted)

  • Habitat types
    • Marshes
    • Lakes
    • Creeks
    • Lagoons
    • Billabongs
    • Habitat edges most important (Braithwaite and Frith 1969a)
      • Use for feeding, nesting, and cover/hiding
    • Freckled Duck not present in marine or estuarine habitats (Marchant and Higgins 1990)
  • Plant species
    • Cattail or cumbungi (Typha)
      • Use during breeding and non-breeding seasons
      • Disperse to lignum and canegrass creeks/marshes when cattail areas flood
        • Avoid exposure in open water
    • Lignum (Duma florulenta)
      • Preferred habitat for nesting (Braithwaite 1976; Jaensch 2003; Dingle 2004)
    • Canegrass (Eragrostis)
    • Teatree (Melaleuca, Leptospermum)
    • Casuarina (Marchant and Higgins 1990)

Habitats constructed by humans

  • Waste stabilization ponds (sewage treatment facilities) (Murray et al. 2012)
    • Attract flocks of Freckled Duck and other waterbirds

Seasonally used habitats

  • Occupies habitats with waters of higher salinity, often during non-breeding season (Carboneras and Kirwan 2018)
    • Not preferred habitat of this species (Smith et al. 2009)
    • Never occupies marine or estuarine habitats (Carboneras and Kirwan 2018)
  • Permanent/semi-permanent inland wetlands act as important refuges during severe drought (Wood and Simcock 1993; Kingsford and Porter 1994; Birdlife International 2016)

Freckled Duck Distribution

Map of Freckled Duck distribution

The Freckled Duck can range across much of Australia, particularly during drought or after rainy periods.

This duck only breeds in southwestern and southeastern Australia.

Adapted from according to IUCN fact sheet. Click here for detailed distribution information (IUCN).


Freckled Ducks resting on shore; Black Swan

Freckled Duck are mainly found in freshwater habitats of southeastern Australia.

Freckled Duck are found in the same habitat as other waterfowl, including Black Swans (left), Pacific Black Ducks, and Magpie Geese.

During the day, Freckled Ducks often rest on shore, in dense vegetation, or in open water.

Image credit: © Ed Dunens via Flickr. CC by 2.0; some rights reserved.

Image location: Lake Wendouree, Victoria, Australia

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