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Abstract



Citation. Williams, M.; McKinney, F. 1996. Long-term monogamy in a river specialist--the Blue Duck. Pages 73-90 in J. M. Black, ed., Partnerships in Birds: the Study of Monogamy. Oxford University Press.   [1713  CC]

Introduction. The mallard-sized Blue Duck Hymenolaimus malacorhynchos, endemic to New Zealand, is found mostly on rivers of steep gradient, a distinctive and linear habitat subjected to brief and dramatic changes in flow at any time of year. Adult ducks live year-round as pairs confined to exclusive 0.5-1.5 km territories along the river bed. Only territory-holders attempt breeding. Pairs keep close company at all times, males regularly patrol the territory boundaries, and territory (and mate) ownership are subjected to frequent challenges. Field and laboratory studies have yielded no evidence of mate infidelity nor of any breeding relationship other than strict monogamy (Triggs et al. 1991; Williams 1991). Males and females both care for the ducklings until fledging, that parental care consisting primarily of vigilance by the male and close guarding of the ducklings by the female. Both sexes are highly philopatric and birds resident in one catchment are effectively separate from those adjacent. Keywords: Blue Duck; Hymenolaimus malacorhynchos; territory; parental care


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