White-eyed Duck or Hardhead

Hardhead (White-eyed Duck)

Hardhead (White-eyed Duck)

There are two commonly accepted common names for this duck: Hardhead and White-eyed duck.

The second name is self explanatory and most appropriate. It always helps in the process of identification.

The name “Hardhead” is also commonly used, but its origins are far from obvious. The initial use of this name seems to come from the early days of settlement in Australia. According to one reference book (see below) it was the name given by early shooters. “While there is no evidence that its skull is particularly solid Frith (1967) commented that ‘owing to a very dense plumage and apparently great stamina, [it] is hard to kill.’ It presumably arose spontaneously” because it was already in use in 1898.

The photos on this post were taken of several ducks on one of the ponds in Centennial Park, Sydney, earlier this year. The last photo is of a female; note the lack of a white eye.


Fraser, I and Gray, J 2013: Australian Bird names: a complete guide. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood, Victoria.

Frith H J, 1967, Waterfowl in Australia. Angus and Robertson, Sydney.

Hardhead (White-eyed Duck)

Hardhead (White-eyed Duck)

Hardhead (White-eyed Duck) female

Hardhead (White-eyed Duck)


2 Responses to “White-eyed Duck or Hardhead”

  1. […] White-eyed Duck or Hardhead – together with some comments on the possible origins of the name. […]

  2. Matthew Fowler says:

    Usually silent, but males have a soft, wheezy whistle and ‘whirr’. females have a loud rattling ‘gaark’ call.”

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