Pacific black duck

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Pacific black duck
Pacific Black Duck (Anas superciliosa) RWD2.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Anseriformes
Family: Anatidae
Genus: Anas
A. superciliosa
Binomial name
Anas superciliosa
Gmelin, 1789

The Pacific black duck (Anas superciliosa), commonly known as the PBD, is a dabbling duck found in much of Indonesia, New Guinea, Australia, New Zealand, and many islands in the southwestern Pacific, reaching to the Caroline Islands in the north and French Polynesia in the east. It is usually called the grey duck in New Zealand, where it is also known by its Maori name, pārera.


This sociable duck is found in a variety of wetland habitats, and its nesting habits are much like those of the mallard, which is encroaching on its range in New Zealand.[2] It feeds by upending, like other Anas ducks.

It has a dark body, and a paler head with a dark crown and facial stripes. In flight, it shows a green speculum and pale underwing. All plumages are similar. The size range is 54–61 cm; males tend to be larger than females, and some island forms are smaller and darker than the main populations.[3] It is not resident on the Marianas islands, but sometimes occurs there during migration. The now-extinct Mariana mallard was probably originally derived from hybrids between this species and the mallard, which came to the islands during migration and settled there.

Like its relatives the mallard and American black duck, the Pacific black duck is one of a number of duck species that can quack, with the female producing a sequence of raucous, rapid quacking which decreases in volume.[4]

There are three subspecies of Anas superciliosa:

The New Zealand subspecies has declined sharply in numbers, at least in its pure form, due to competition from and hybridisation with the introduced mallard.[5] Rhymer et al. (1994) say their data "points to the eventual loss of identity of the grey duck as a separate species in New Zealand, and the subsequent dominance of a hybrid swarm akin to the Mariana Mallard." Studies of their three species of parasitic feather lice support this prediction[6]

It was assumed that far more mallard drakes mate with grey duck females than vice versa based on the fact that most hybrids show a mallard-type plumage, but this is not correct; it appears that the mallard phenotype is dominant, and that the degree to which species contributed to a hybrid's ancestry cannot be determined from the plumage.[7] The main reasons for displacement of the grey duck seem to be physical dominance of the larger mallards, combined with a marked population decline of the grey duck due to overhunting in the mid-20th century.[8]


The Pacific black duck is mainly vegetarian, feeding on seeds of aquatic plants. This diet is supplemented with small crustaceans, molluscs and aquatic insects. Food is obtained by 'dabbling', where the bird plunges its head and neck underwater and upends, raising its rear end vertically out of the water. Occasionally, food is sought on land in damp grassy areas.[9]

Various views and plumages[edit]


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Anas superciliosa". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2012. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
  2. ^ Rhymer, Judith M. & Simberloff, Daniel (1996). "Extinction by hybridization and introgression". Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics. 27: 83–109. doi:10.1146/annurev.ecolsys.27.1.83.
  3. ^ Madge, Steve; Burn, Hilary (1988). Waterfowl: an Identification Guide to the Ducks, Geese, and Swans of the World. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0-395-46727-6.
  4. ^ "Anas superciliosa, Pacific Black Duck". Museums Victoria Collections. Retrieved 2020-01-17.
  5. ^ Gillespie, Grant D (1985). "Hybridization, introgression, and morphometric differentiation between Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) and Grey Duck (Anas superciliosa) in Otago, New Zealand" (PDF). The Auk. 102 (3): 459–469. doi:10.1093/auk/102.3.459.
  6. ^ Bulgarella, M (2018). "The ectoparasites of hybrid ducks in New Zealand (Mallard x Grey Duck)". International Journal for Parasitology: Parasites and Wildlife. 7 (3): 335–342. doi:10.1016/j.ijppaw.2018.09.005. PMC 6154467. PMID 30258780.
  7. ^ Rhymer, Judith M.; Williams, Murray J. & Braun, Michael J (1994). "Mitochondrial analysis of gene flow between New Zealand Mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) and Grey Ducks (A. superciliosa)" (PDF). The Auk. 111 (4): 970–978. doi:10.2307/4088829. JSTOR 4088829.
  8. ^ Williams, Murray & Basse, Britta (2006). "Indigenous gray ducks, Anas superciliosa, and introduced mallards, A. platyrhynchos, in New Zealand: processes and outcome of a deliberate encounter". Acta Zoologica Sinica. 52 (Supplement): 579–582.
  9. ^ "Pacific Black Duck". The Australian Museum. Retrieved March 6, 2019.

Further reading[edit]

  • Heather, Barrie D. & Robertson, Hugh A. (1996). The Field Guide to the Birds of New Zealand. Auckland: Viking. ISBN 0-670-86911-2.

External links[edit]