Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
sdzglibrarybanner San Diego Zoo Global Library

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

Taxonomy and Nomenclature

Taxonomy

  • 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)

Nomenclature

(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

Synonyms

  • 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)

Books

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

Art

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

Classification

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.

SDZG Library Links