Fun New Zealand Scaup Facts For Kids

Joan Agie
Feb 29, 2024 By Joan Agie
Originally Published on Sep 02, 2021
Edited by Jacob Fitzbright
Fact-checked by Kidadl Team
Informative and interesting New Zealand scaup facts that kids will love.
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.8 Min

The New Zealand scaup (Aythya novaeseelandiae) belongs to the family Anatidae, of the order Anseriformes, and are endemic to New Zealand. They are commonly known as black teals and are a species of diving duck that live in the North and South Islands of New Zealand and inhabit deep freshwater lakes and ponds. They have some other common names, including papango, matapouri, titiporangi, and raipo. These birds have a strong appearance among the wild duck species, with their dark coloration. New Zealand scaup eggs are similar to chicken eggs, which are cream or white in coloration, and people also consume these eggs due to their nutritional value.

Both males and females are similar but different, making it easy for people to distinguish them. They are different from other duck species and remain underwater most of the time, and travel far distances. The New Zealand scaup (Aythya novaeseelandiae) has a rounded profile and is dark and squat. New Zealand scaups generally have fast wings and commonly fly above the water and rest on the land, but when they feel disturbed, they move into the water again. Their diet consists of small fishes, earthworms, insects, snails, and aquatic plants too. Throughout the breeding season, both the male and female build nests to lay eggs.

If you enjoyed learning about New Zealand scaup, you might be interested in common murre facts and reddish egret facts.

New Zealand Scaup Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a New Zealand scaup?

A New Zealand scaup (Aythya novaeseelandiae) is a type of duck from the genus Aythya and the order Anseriformes. Some species of ducks are related to these diving ducks, like the black teal and vagrant Australian white-eyed ducks. Australian coots are also similar to this species of ducks.

What class of animal does a New Zealand scaup belong to?

The New Zealand scaup (Aythya novaeseelandiae) belongs to the class Aves and phylum Chordata. Their population decreased in the 1800s and 1900s because of land clearance, human urban development, and hunting. They are related to other similar species, mainly coots and grebes.

How many are New Zealand scaups there in the world?

The number of New Zealand scaups (Aythya novaeseelandiae) was estimated to be 20,000 in the 1900s when the population was decreasing, but from then the number has increased, and therefore their conservation status is of Least Concern according to the IUCN.

Where does a New Zealand scaup live?

New Zealand scaups (Aythya novaeseelandiae) have a wide distribution range throughout the North and South Islands of New Zealand. They are also found in deep freshwater ponds and lakes and nowadays, they are commonly found on shallow lowland lakes, slow-flowing rivers and saltwater. They are not at all common in Stewart island and Chatham island.

What is a New Zealand scaup's habitat?

New Zealand scaups (Aythya novaeseelandiae) are not migratory birds. They often congregate in reed beds, near willows in sheltered areas. They may make a move during the winter season as per their winter life cycle. They are commonly found on dune lakes in Northland, Manawatu, and inland lakes in Waikato, Taupo, Rotorua and Hawke’s Bay. In the southern region, the distribution of this species can be seen in West Coast lakes, north Canterbury waterways, eastern and southern high country, and hydroelectric lakes.

Who does New Zealand scaups live with?

New Zealand scaups (Aythya novaeseelandiae) often group together in flocks floating on the water and mostly underwater in search of food or prey.

How long does a New Zealand scaup live?

The total lifespan of this duck is around seven years.

How do they reproduce?

These birds are monogamous in nature. Both males and females build the nest near water on the ground and often under banks of a river or thick cover in which to lay their eggs as the breeding season approaches. They lay around five to eight eggs in the nest, which is made up of several materials and its structure is like a tidy bowl made with nearby materials and lined with down. The breeding season commences in October and lasts until March. Their nest is made in isolation or in a loose colony. Females take care of their chicks until they reach maturity.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of New Zealand scaups (Aythya novaeseelandiae) is of Least Concern, according to the IUCN. The scaup ducks of New Zealand, including male, female and chicks, are vulnerable to predation, which results in low breeding success. They were known to be near extinction in the 1800s and 1900s.  Suitable feeding and control of predators have resulted in the expansion of their population at Bromley Oxidation Ponds and Te Huingi Manu Wildlife Refuge in Christchurch. They are endemic to New Zealand.

New Zealand Scaup Fun Facts

What do New Zealand scaups look like?

New Zealand scaup has a dark body coloration with yellow eyes.

New Zealand scaup appearance, description, and photos show that they have a body of dark brown and black color. The male duck has a dark green colored head and striking yellow eyes, whereas the female duck is almost the same except for the yellow eyes, and has a white face patch during the breeding season. When they take flight, a white wing bar can be seen. Males also have plumage with iridescent blue-green heads and wings and the bill is blue-gray in color. Chicks of these birds start resembling like the females until they reach 12 weeks after birth. Other similar species, like the Australian coot and black teal, also have some coloration, white face patch and even the same body size. Their head is also of same dark greenish color. The weight of these ducks differs between the sexes, where males weight around 24.5 oz (695 g) and the female weighs around 21.5 oz (610 g), which shows that New Zealand scaup female is smaller than the male in size. Their total body length is around 15.7 in (40 cm).

How cute are they?

According to their physical description, they are the smallest, most unique birds throughout New Zealand. They are attractive birds spread across the north and south Islands of New Zealand. This bird has a unique coloration over its body and head.

How do they communicate?

The male bird makes a loud whistle-like 'weeee weo-weo weo-weo weo-weoooo' whereas, on the other side, females make a low volume call like 'wack.'

How big is a New Zealand scaup?

New Zealand scaups are diving birds whose body length is 15.7 in (39.8 cm) long, which is three times bigger than an African pygmy goose.

How fast can a New Zealand scaup fly?

These diving birds have an impressive flying speed, but the flight is made in flocks mostly over the rivers and shallow marshes., and their exact speed is unknown.

How much does a New Zealand scaup weigh?

New Zealand scaup male weighs around 24.5 oz (695 g) and females weigh around 21.5 oz (610 g). They are five times heavier or bigger than Guam rail.

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no specific names used to describe the male and female species of these diving ducks.

What would you call a baby New Zealand scaup?

Baby New Zealand scaups are known as chicks. They start feeding soon after birth and are taken care of by their mothers.

What do they eat?

A New Zealand scaup's diet consists of aquatic plants, small fish like anchovies, water snails, mussels, and insects. It is diving duck and searches for food deep down, underwater, for 20-30 seconds. Snails, chironomid larvae, caddisfly larvae, and sometimes plants are also included in their diet.

Are they dangerous?

New Zealand scaups are not dangerous, but they are good and strong predators while they stay in the water, as they can go quite deep to forage for food.

Would they make a good pet?

These birds are not kept as pets because they are threatened by human development and will not adjust easily to human surroundings, as they prefer ponds, lakes, and water bodies in general.

Did you know...

These birds are also known as black teal papangos. They line their nest with down on the riverbank, and their breeding season occurs between October and March. They are the smallest New Zealand duck species.

Are New Zealand scaups endangered?

These birds are not endangered, but they are threatened by some factors like human urban development. Still, certain measures have been taken by Wildlife Reserves and New Zealand scaup zoo for their population expansion through predator control and suitable feeding.

Are New Zealand scaups migratory?

These are non-migratory birds but often migrate in the winter seasons because of the cold winter life cycle.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds from our glossy ibis facts and Andean flamingo facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable New Zealand scaup coloring pages.

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Written by Joan Agie

Bachelor of Science specializing in Human Anatomy

Joan Agie picture

Joan AgieBachelor of Science specializing in Human Anatomy

With 3+ years of research and content writing experience across several niches, especially on education, technology, and business topics. Joan holds a Bachelor’s degree in Human Anatomy from the Federal University of Technology, Akure, Nigeria, and has worked as a researcher and writer for organizations across Nigeria, the US, the UK, and Germany. Joan enjoys meditation, watching movies, and learning new languages in her free time.

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