Distribution and habitat

Map showing the Australian distribution of the Hardhead.

The Hardhead is widely distributed throughout Australia, however, the stronghold of the species is in the deeper, permanent freshwater swamps and lagoons of the Murray-Darling Basin and south-east South Australia. They are also common in south-west Western Australia.


The Hardhead is available for recreational hunting in Victoria, South Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory.


A medium-sized, dark-brown bird with white feathers under the tail. The male has a white eye.

In flight, the Hardhead has a large white band across the belly, the underwing is translucent white and the upperwing has a white strip on the trailing edge. The Hardhead is very swift in flight with rapid, short wing beats. The wings are narrow and pointed and set well back on the body.

On the water, the Hardhead is a dark coloured duck, floating very low and sometimes the white undertail is visible.


Normally silent, but the male has a soft, wheezy whistle and the female a soft, harsh croak.


Here are some images of the Hardhead.

Close up of Hardhead wings and head showing markings for male and female ducks.Drawings showing the profiles for male and female Hardhead ducks.

Video footage

Video footage of the Hardhead is attached below.