ENDEMIC. UNCOMMON. RESIDENT. FULLY PROTECTED.
DISTRIBUTION: Although the blue duck is rare it remains widespread in the top of the North Island and in areas of suitable habitat throughout the South Island.
HABITAT: The Blue Duck is one of the most highly specialised waterfowl in the world. It is confined to fast-flowing mountain rivers and streams. They are very territorial and pairs often defend up to a kilometre of stream.
BREEDING: Breeding takes place from August to October. A simple nest is built and 4-9 creamy-white eggs are laid and incubated by the female. The parents do not feed the chicks but continually escort them until they fledge at about 75 days old.
FOOD: Aquatic invertebrates. Soft lateral flaps at the tip of the bill were once thought to act as scrapers during feeding but are now believed to protect the bone of the bill from abrasion in contact with rocks.
VOICE: Males have a ‘wheezy whistle’ and females have a low pitched rattling growl.
GENERAL: Up to 3,000 left in the South Island and about 1,000 in the North Island. Some were recently introduced to Taranaki/Mount Egmont National Park from a captive breeding programme. Their habitat may be modified by small hydro-electric developments or poor catchment management. It is believed that the species may be extinct within 10 years. The New Zealand Conservation Trust in partnership with Willowbank Wildlife Reserve is taking part in a breeding plan to save this species.