Hi I’m “Bluey” the Blue Duck
Here’s some things you may want to know about me.
- First of all, I have friends in high places. If you want to know about the company I keep, check the NZ $10 note. I’m right there with the Queen.
- We don’t have to be too formal. You can call me “Bluey” but some call me “Whio”. This is what Maori call The Blue Duck. It’s pronounced “fee-oh” which is the sound of the male duck’s call.
- It is relevant that I have a Te Reo name as I can only be found in New Zealand.
- I am special. There just aren’t too many of me, you know. In fact, there are less than 3,000 of me, so that means my breed runs the risk of becoming extinct.
- I am not a couch potato. The action is where I am at. Give me some rapids and I am happy. If you’re looking for me, try fast-flowing rivers in both the North and South Islands. Hint: look in the high-altitude parts of the rivers.
- I am one good-looking duck. Out in my natural habitat I am slate blue-grey with chestnut spotting on my breast. I have a pale grey bill with a black tip, dark grey legs and feet and yellow eyes.
- Oh… another thing. I look particularly distinguished on the water. Check out my prominent, upward-tilting tail, and the way I hold my head erect.
- I am here for a good time, and a relatively long time. Larger blue ducks like me can live for up to 12 years. Unfortunately the smaller ones (generally the females) have a shorter life-span.
- Who don’t I like? Top of the list are stoats. These predators attack female blue ducks on the nest, steal eggs and take young ducklings from the river’s edge. Feral cats, domestic dogs and ferrets are not on my friend list either. I’m not loving rats and possums either as they’ve been caught eyeing up our eggs too.
- Hey, here’s a cool thing. Kiwis (the people, not the birds) hold events, like the Great Fiordland Whio Race, to raise awareness about us. In that fun event, 150 blue, rubber ducks went river racing. Choice.
- One last thing… it’s a great idea if you contact the Department of Conservation if you see blue ducks. (You don’t have to ring them when you see me though.)