Historical information

The Pink-eared Duck can be found throughout Australia, commonly in locations that are timbered and near water. This species of Duck prefers to reside in areas which are shallow, temporary waters and on occasion may venture into open wetlands if with a large flock; however, this species is highly dispersive and often nomadic. The special bill of this Duck is designed to enable the bird to catch their food. The bill is fringed with grooves which filter out microscopic plants and animals from the water which makes up the birds diet.

This specimen is part of a collection of almost 200 animal specimens that were originally acquired as skins from various institutions across Australia, including the Australian Museum in Sydney and the National Museum of Victoria (known as Museums Victoria since 1983), as well as individuals such as amateur anthropologist Reynell Eveleigh Johns between 1860-1880. These skins were then mounted by members of the Burke Museum Committee and put-on display in the formal space of the Museum’s original exhibition hall where they continue to be on display. This display of taxidermy mounts initially served to instruct visitors to the Burke Museum of the natural world around them, today it serves as an insight into the collecting habits of the 19th century.


This specimen is part of a significant and rare taxidermy mount collection in the Burke Museum. This collection is scientifically and culturally important for reminding us of how science continues to shape our understanding of the modern world. They demonstrate a capacity to hold evidence of how Australia’s fauna history existed in the past and are potentially important for future environmental research.

This collection continues to be on display in the Museum and has become a key part to interpreting the collecting habits of the 19th century.

Physical description

The Pink-Eared Duck is named for the small pink spot of feathers which feature on the sides of the drake's head. Another name for this bird is Zebra Duck because of the striking bold black and white striped plumage which decorates the duck's neck, breast and stomach. The bill is spoon shaped and the eyes are made of dark coloured glass and surrounded by brown colouring. The bird has brown wings and light coloured legs with webbed toes. This particular specimen stands on a wooden square platform. There are signs of damage on the platform and a wooden identification tag is tied to the upper right leg of the bird.

Inscriptions & markings

6a./ Pink-eyed Duck / See Catalogue, page 39 /