What Is a Paradise Duck?

Have you ever visited New Zealand? Perhaps you’re one of the fortunate individuals who reside there all year round. If so, you’re aware that it’s a stunning island teeming with a diverse range of wildlife. One of its inhabitants, which we will be discussing today, is the paradise duck!

So, what exactly is a paradise duck? It is a large species of duck that is also referred to as the paradise shelduck. It has been present in New Zealand for thousands of years. The indigenous Maori people know this animal as Putangitangi. They hunted it as a food source for many years prior to the arrival of Europeans on the island.

If you’ve been following our Wonder of the Day for some time, you’re already familiar with endangered species. Often, animals become endangered and eventually extinct due to the loss of their natural habitats. However, for paradise ducks, the story is different. Once driven to the brink of extinction due to hunting, their population has recovered since the 1990s. This is primarily due to the clearing of land for urban and agricultural development.

While many species on the island have suffered due to habitat loss, the clearing of land has actually provided the paradise duck with more places to inhabit. These ducks prefer open pastures and wide riverbeds. In urban environments, they can often be spotted in public parks.

So, what do paradise ducks eat? They are primarily herbivores and prefer to consume grass, clover, peas, and grain. They also feed on underwater vegetation found in the beds of streams and rivers. Additionally, they are known to snack on small invertebrates such as worms and bugs.

Have you ever encountered a paradise duck? If so, you probably noticed that they are quite large. In fact, some people may mistake them for geese. Male paradise ducks can weigh up to 3.7 pounds (1.7 kg), while females weigh approximately three pounds (1.4 kg). They measure between 24.8 to 27.5 inches (63 to 70 cm) in length. Their long necks further contribute to their resemblance to geese.

Paradise ducks are also renowned for their vibrant feathers. Female ducks typically have white heads and chestnut bodies adorned with black, white, and green feathers on their wings and tails. On the other hand, males have black heads and chestnut bodies. They may also possess black, white, and green feathers, although they are typically less colorful than their female counterparts.

Even today, paradise ducks are still hunted for food and sport. Some farmers also consider them to be pests. Although their population was once in danger, there may now be over 700,000 paradise ducks in New Zealand. These animals often live in pairs or small groups, and both parents participate in raising their offspring.

The paradise duck is just one example of the fascinating and vibrant wildlife that inhabits New Zealand. What other types of wildlife are you interested in learning more about?

Try It Out

Find a friend or family member who can assist you in engaging in the activities listed below to continue your learning journey!

  • Do you want to witness and hear the paradise duck? Take a moment to browse through the pictures at the bottom and listen to the sound they produce. Does this duck remind you of any other creatures? How would you feel if you encountered one in the wilderness? Discuss it with a friend or family member.
  • Expand your knowledge about New Zealand. Afterwards, create a poster or brochure to inform others about what you have learned. Include images and a minimum of ten fascinating facts about the country.
  • The paradise duck holds significance for New Zealand. Are there any animals that inhabit your area? Are any of them significant to the region you reside in? Select one animal that you have encountered outdoors and delve deeper into its details today. You can learn by observing it in its natural habitat or by researching online. Make sure to seek assistance from a friend or family member, and discuss what you have discovered!

Sources of Wonder

  • https://www.doc.govt.nz/nature/native-animals/birds/birds-a-z/paradise-duck-putakitaki/ (accessed on 20th Nov. 2020)
  • http://nzbirdsonline.org.nz/species/paradise-shelduck (accessed on 20th Nov. 2020)
  • https://www.beautyofbirds.com/paradiseshelducks.html (accessed on 20th Nov. 2020)
  • https://teara.govt.nz/en/wetland-birds/page-5 (accessed on 20th Nov. 2020)
  • https://learnersdictionary.com/ (accessed on 20th Nov. 2020)


1. What is a paradise duck?

A paradise duck, also known as the paradise shelduck, is a species of large, colorful duck native to New Zealand. It is well-known for its striking appearance, with the male having a black head and neck, a white body, and a chestnut-colored chest. The female, on the other hand, has a white head and neck, a chestnut body, and a white chest. Both sexes have a vibrant green speculum on their wings.

2. Where can paradise ducks be found?

Paradise ducks are endemic to New Zealand, meaning they are found naturally only in this country. They inhabit a variety of habitats, including wetlands, rivers, farmlands, and coastal areas. Although they are mainly found in New Zealand, they have also been introduced to other countries, such as Australia and Chile, where small populations can be found.

3. What do paradise ducks eat?

Paradise ducks are herbivores and primarily feed on grasses, seeds, and plant matter. They are often seen grazing in fields or pastures, where they feed on grasses and other vegetation. They may also forage in wetlands, where they can find aquatic plants and invertebrates. In some cases, they may also supplement their diet with insects and small crustaceans.

4. Are paradise ducks protected?

Yes, paradise ducks are protected in New Zealand under the Wildlife Act. They are considered a native species and are protected from hunting or capture without a permit. However, they are not listed as threatened or endangered, as their populations are stable and they are adaptable to a range of habitats. They are also a popular species for wildlife enthusiasts to observe and photograph.

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