Blue-billed Duck Oxyura australis


Justification of Red List Category
This species has a moderately small population and is therefore classed as Near Threatened. It faces a number of threats and the population may be smaller than currently estimated. If it is found that the population size is very small and declining, the species may qualify as threatened.

Population justification
The population has been estimated at c.12,000 mature individuals, equivalent to c.18,000 individuals in total.

Trend justification
The population is thought to be stable (Garnett and Crowley 2000).

Distribution and population

Oxyura australis occupies permanent deep water-bodies in southern Australia with the population estimated at c.12,000 mature individuals, or c.15,000 birds overall (R. Jaensch in litt. 2005 to Wetlands International 2006). The species is found particularly in the Murray-Darling basin and southern Victoria.


The species is found on terrestrial wetlands in temperate regions, that are freshwater to saline, and may be natural or artificial. It nests in rushes, sedges, Lignum Muehlenbeckia cunninghamii and paperbark Melaleuca, and it lays 5-6 eggs. It feeds on aquatic insect larvae, seeds and plant matter. During autumn and winter the species aggregates in large flocks but disperses to smaller waterbodies when breeding. Aggregations also occur during drought.


It is threatened by drainage of deep permanent wetlands, or their degradation as a result of introduced fish, peripheral cattle grazing, salinisation and lowering of ground water. A small number are probably shot by accident during the duck hunting season. The western population is particularly threatened with predictions that rainfall there will fall as temperatures rise. In 2007, there was an ongoing drought in the species's range.

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
No targeted conservation action is known for this species.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Identify major perennial wetlands used by the species for breeding and moulting, and protect them against further degradation. Monitor population trends through regular surveys.


Text account compilers
Garnett, S., Taylor, J.

Jaensch, R., Burbidge, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2021) Species factsheet: Oxyura australis. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 28/10/2021. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2021) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 28/10/2021.