Blue-billed Duck Video Transcript

Blue Bills have a limited range in the west and south-east and in parts of Tasmania. The male Blue-billed Duck is a very colourful bird. It has a bright blue bill, a black head and neck, and a rust-coloured breast. By comparison, females are quite plain. They're dark grey all over. The wings of both sexes are dark. There are no colour patches or white markings at all.

Here's the upperwing. And here's the underwing. Notice how small the wings are. Blue-billed Ducks have a short, spiny tail. They don't fly much, but when they do this tail can be used to recognise them in the air. On the wing, blue bills appear as very dark birds with no colour patches or contrasting plumage. The neck and tail also look very short.

They are a totally protected species. Blue Bills are one of the diving ducks and prefer deepwater swamps with plenty of cover. The female hasn't got the bright colour of the male or the Blue Bill. The unusual tailfeathers tell you at once that it is one of the stiff-tailed ducks.

The colour of the male's bill fades after the breeding season, so it sometimes seems very pale. The white feathers below the tail are not always visible, as Blue Bills often float very low in the water. And because of this, they can look a bit like Hardheads. But male Blue Bills often have much darker heads and shorter necks than Hardheads.

Compare the shape and colour of this male Blue Bill with the Hardhead coming in from the right. The short, heavy beak of the Blue Bill is another thing to remember, and it is quite different from the Hardhead's beak. With their tailfeathers held up like this, Blue Bills are easy to pick out on the water.You don't see Blue Bills fly very often, but when they do, there is no wing pattern at all. The short wings beat very quickly and the birds usually keep low to the water. They only fly if disturbed by guns or boats, and in poor light conditions appear as small, very dark birds that float low in the water. Females are lighter in colour but fly just as quickly. Blue Bills usually escape their enemies by diving rather than by taking to the air.