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Freckled Duck (Stictonetta naevosa) Fact Sheet: Taxonomy & History

Taxonomy and Nomenclature


  • Order Anseriformes (ducks, geese, swans, screamers, Magpie Goose) (Sun et al. 2017)
    • More than 150 species
    • Taxonomic families
      • Anatidae
        • Geese, ducks, and swans
          • More than 100 species
      • Dendrocydnidae
        • Whistling Ducks
          • About 10 species
      • Anhimidae
      • Anseranatidae
        • Magpie Goose
          • One species
  • Freckled Duck, Stictonetta naevosa (Gould, 1841)
    • No subspecies recognized (Johnsgard 2010)


(Marchant and Higgins 1990; Lederer and Burr 2014)

  • Genus: Stictonetta (stik-toe-NET-ta)
    • From Greek
      • stiktos, meaning spotted or dotted
      • netta, meaning duck
  • Species: S. naevosa (nee-VO-sa)
    • From Latin
      • naevus, meaning spot or spotted


  • Anas naevosa (Carboneras and Kirwan 2018; UNEP 2018)

Common names

(Carboneras and Kirwan 2018; UNEP 2018)

  • Freckled Duck (English)
  • Stictonette tachetée (French)
  • Affengans (German)
  • Pato pecoso (Spanish)

Other colloquial or local names

  • Oatmeal duck, monkey duck, Diamantina duck, speckled duck (English) (Frith 1967; Marchant and Higgins 1990; Johnsgard 2010)
  • Pünktchenente (German) (Johnsgard 2010)
  • Canard moucheté (French) (Johnsgard 2010)
  • Pato manchado (Spanish) (Johnsgard 2010)

Evolutionary History

Fossil history and evolutionary relationships

  • Anatidae and Dendrocygnidae diverged about 35 Ma (Eocene) (Sun et al. 2017)
  • Ducks (Anatidae)
    • Rapid and recent diversification, especially during Plio-Pleistocene (Sun et al. 2017)
  • Stictonetta relatively basal in divergence compared to other ducks (Worthy and Lee 2008)

Close extant/living relatives

  • Pink-eared Duck (Malacorhynchus membranaceus) (Worthy and Lee 2008)
  • Stiff-tailed ducks (Oxyura) (Fullagar et al. 1990; Worthy and Lee 2008)

Cultural History

Culture and folklore

  • Aboriginal cultures of Australia
    • Freckled Duck and other seasonal migrating birds caught by net by aboriginal hunters in the Lower Murray, South Australia (Berndt et al. 1993)
    • Historically at Point McLeay, boys forbidden from eating certain foods, including Freckled Duck, prior to initiation and for two years after initiation (Clarke 2017, citing G. Taplin, 1859-1879)


  • Children’s books
  • Briefly mentioned in the “Rapture of the Living Lake” in The Divine Comedy (2008) by John Kinsella


  • Paintings
    • Anas naevosa by John Gould, The Birds of Australia (Gould 1848)


Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Aves

Order: Anseriformes (Wagler, 1831) — ducks, geese, swans, screamers, waterfowl

Family: Anatidae — ducks, geese, swans

Genus: Stictonetta (Reichenbach, 1853)

Species: Stictonetta naevosa (Gould, 1841) — Freckled Duck

Sources: Carboneras and Kirwan (2018); Integrated Taxonomic Information System (2018)

Artist's Depiction

1848 painting of a Freckled Duck by John Gould

An 1848 illustration of a Freckled Duck by John Gould.

Plate 10; by J. Gould. The Birds of Australia (Vol. 7), 1848. Biodiversity Heritage LibraryPublic domain.

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