“Musk Duck (Bizura lobata) is the only living member of its genus. It possesses stiff-tailed duck (Oxyura sp.) characteristics and is easily identified by its body floating very low in the water. The ducks are huge in size, ~50cm to 73 cm. The legs are set far back on the body for swimming.
“Males and females look alike except for the conspicuous lobe of skin under the bill of a breeding drake. The males emit a musk odour and the lobe of skin under the bill increases in size during the breeding season. Lek mating is observed in these ducks. The males are promiscuous and display themselves for long periods of time. The attached clip shows part of the exhibitionism of a drake filmed at Lake Monger, Perth, West Australia.
“The male kicks water sprays with its feet and emits ‘plonk’, ‘ker-plonk’ and ‘quinck’ sounds at the same time. The tail spreads out, and it is clear why it is known as a stiff-tailed duck. The tail is pressed against its back, the neck curved in a U-shape and the beak points upwards.
“The drake then whistles ‘kok-chwee’ repeatedly while continuing with its kicking. The whistling was loud and seemed to have a ventriloquist effect. We were fooled into thinking the whistling was made by little birds sitting on branches above us. Individuals of its kind swim near it, look on and then leave. The females are sizing him up. His display went on for half an hour.
“The females do not display and are known to give their little ones rides on the back.”
Teo Lee Wei & K
5th June 2014
Note: Video clip by Teo Lee Wei & K; images of the male Musk Duck by Dr Eric Tan.