New Zealand is home to a wide variety of water birds, including many species of ducks. Most of these are endemic, but some have been introduced and a few have naturalised here.

Different native duck species have become adapted to particular habitats in New Zealand and have co-existed by taking advantage of different ecological niches.

In this activity, students will use resource materials to identify the features of a variety of New Zealand duck species. This is one of a set of three activities that help students identify different duck species and is designed to be adapted to meet student requirements, age, level and ability. The other activities are Mixing and matching ducks and Duck dominoes.

By the end of this activity, students should be able to:

  • use their observation skills to identify similarities and differences between some species of New Zealand ducks
  • use their literacy skills to identify key words and phrases related to the identification of some New Zealand ducks
  • use a Venn diagram to classify the identified similarities and differences.

Download the Word file (see link below) for:

  • background information for teachers
  • equipment list
  • student instructions
  • extension ideas/prompting questions for teachers.

Download the Duck information cards PDF (see link below):

Nature of science

Identification of species relies on students developing their investigative skills – part of the ‘Investigating in science’ strand of the Nature of Science. Students are encouraged to work like scientists, using observational evidence to make decisions. This fosters the development of science capabilities such as ‘Gather and interpret data’.

Related content

Examples of related articles on the Science Learning Hub include Who’s who in the duck world?, Introducing New Zealand ducks, Fantastic whio feathers, Conserving native birds – introduction and Conserving native birds – writer’s insight. There are also several teacher PLD sessions related to this topic: Diving into inquiry with whio, Why learn about whio?Inquiry outside the classroomTaking action for conservationBird conservation and literacy and SLH and conservation.

Activity ideas

Some other activities on the Science Learning Hub related to whio and other New Zealand ducks that you may wish to explore include Ethics in bird conservation, Eliciting prior knowledge, Whio feathers – what are they for?, Mixing and matching ducks, Duck dominoes and Ethics in conservation science.



Useful links

For more detailed information about New Zealand ducks, you may want to visit sites such as New Zealand Birds Online, New Zealand Birds, Department of Conservation or 10,000 Birds.


    Published 23 June 2017