Australian Bush Birds
Cotton Pygmy Goose  -  Nettapus coromandelianus
Cotton Pygmy Goose
Two female Cotton Pygmy Geese identified by the grey eye-stripe and lack of black band between throat and breast. Cumberland Dam.
map map Cotton Pygmy Goose - Nettapus coromandelianus - males (35 to 38 centimetres) are slightly larger than females (33 to 38 centimetres) and are differently marked. Males have a white face, brown crown and no eye stripe; chin and neck are white, the back of the neck is white with some brown. There is a black band between throat and breast. Breast and belly are white speckled with brown; undertail is dusky. The back is glossy dark green. Wing primary feathers are dark brown with a broad white bar near the tip. Eye is bright red, bill black, feet olive-green.

Females have less green on the back than males and do not have the black band between throat and breast; females have a grey eye stripe and the breast is marked with fine brown marks. Eyes are brown.

Immature adults are similar to adult females but have no green gloss and the eye-stripe is more distinct. Adult males in eclipse (breeding birds unsuccessful in finding a mate) resemble females in colour but retain the white wing bar.

Ducklings have a dark grey-brown crown, light grey face with dark brown eye-stripe. Back of the neck, back and tail are dark grey-brown; underside is light grey with underside of tail dark grey to black at the tips. Two white spots on either side of the back. Bill is yellow with dark grey ridge.

Found along a broad coastal strip of Queensland and northern New South Wales from Cape York to the Clarence River in New South Wales. The main population is between Rockhampton and Ingham in Queensland with the largest numbers in the Ayre, Townsville and Charters Towers districts.

Outside Australia, the Cotton Pygmy Goose is widely found from India to the Philippines, Indonesia and northern New Guinea. There are two races, one endemic to Australia.

Inhabits deep freshwater lagoons where waterlillies grow, also found in large freshwater lakes and along the edges of quiet rivers and creeks fringed with waterlillies but never found in streams, shallow water or water covered with other vegetation. The Cotton Pygmy Goose has similar feeding habits to the Green Pygmy Goose; it cruises among waterlillies, stripping seeds from aquatic plants and seizing occasional insects. On the coast more than half of the diet is pond weed, seeds and water grasses; in more inland sites it eats less pond weed and more sedges.

This is a generally sedentary species which can be locally nomadic.

Breeding is at the end of the main rainy season. In the southern part most nests are found between September and November; in north Queensland most breeding seems to take place between January and March. Eggs are laid in a hollow in a dead tree up to 10 metres above ground, usually within 20 metres of water. Eggs may be laid on bare wood or on the remains of another species' nest. Usually six to nine eggs; pear;y white, oval, about 48 by 35 millimetres. The female incubates the eggs.

Common names include White Pygmy-Goose, White-quilled Pygmy-Goose, Cotton Teal.