Duck

Ducks are aquatic birds of the family Anatidae characterized by broad, flat bills and specialized webbed feet for swimming. These water birds are smaller, and they have shorter necks in comparison to their relatives (geese and swans). Because of their similar forms, ducks are also confused with unrelated birds like loons, gallinules, coots, and grebes.

Duck Scientific Classification

Animalia
Chordata
Aves
Anseriformes
Anatidae

Duck

List of Common Types of Duck Species

Aside from the hundreds of domestic duck breeds that are specifically developed for eggs, meat, or their exotic appearance, ornithologists and birders have officially recognized over 120 wild duck species that are mentioned in the list below:

  • African Black Duck
  • African Pygmy-Goose
  • American Black Duck
  • American White-winged Scoter
  • American Wigeon
  • Andean Teal
  • Asian White-Winged Scoter
  • Auckland Islands Teal
  • Australasian Shoveler
  • Australian Shelduck
  • Australian Wood Duck
  • Baer’s Pochard
  • Baikal Teal
  • Barrow’s Goldeneye
  • Black Scoter
  • Black-Bellied Whistling Duck
  • Black-headed Duck
  • Blue Duck
  • Blue-Billed Duck
  • Blue-Winged Goose
  • Blue-Winged Teal
  • Brazilian Merganser
  • Brazilian Teal
  • Brown Teal
  • Bufflehead
  • Campbell Islands Teal
  • Canvasback
  • Cape Shoveler
  • Cape Teal
  • Chestnut Teal
  • Chiloe Wigeon
  • Cinnamon Teal
  • Comb Duck
  • Common Eider
  • Common Goldeneye
  • Common Merganser
  • Common Pochard
  • Common Scoter
  • Common Shelduck
  • Common Teal
  • Cotton Pygmy-Goose
  • Crested Duck
  • Crested Shelduck
  • Eastern Spot-Billed Duck
  • Eaton’s Pintail
  • Egyptian Goose
  • Eurasian Wigeon
  • Falcated Duck
  • Falkland Steamerduck
  • Ferruginous Duck
  • Flightless Steamerduck
  • Flying Steamerduck
  • Freckled Duck
  • Fulvous Whistling-Duck
  • Gadwall
  • Garganey
  • Greater Scaup
  • Green Pygmy-Goose
  • Grey Teal
  • Hardhead
  • Harlequin Duck
  • Hartlaub’s Duck
  • Hawaiian Duck
  • Hooded Merganser
  • Hottentot Teal
  • Kelp Goose
  • King Eider
  • Lake Duck
  • Laysan Duck
  • Lesser Scaup
  • Lesser Whistling-Duck
  • Long-Tailed Duck
  • Maccoa Duck
  • Madagascar Pochard
  • Madagascar Teal
  • Mallard
  • Mandarin Duck
  • Marbled Teal
  • Masked Duck
  • Meller’s Duck
  • Mottled Duck
  • Muscovy Duck
  • Musk Duck
  • New Zealand Scaup
  • Northern Pintail
  • Northern Shoveler
  • Orinoco Goose
  • Pacific Black Duck
  • Paradise Shelduck
  • Philippine Duck
  • Pink-Eared Duck
  • Pink-Headed Duck
  • Plumed Whistling-Duck
  • Puna Teal
  • Radjah Shelduck
  • Red Shoveler
  • Red-Billed Duck
  • Red-Breasted Merganser
  • Red-Crested Pochard
  • Redhead
  • Ring-Necked Duck
  • Ringed Teal
  • Rosy-Billed Pochard
  • Ruddy Duck
  • Ruddy Shelduck
  • Salvadori’s Teal
  • Scaly-Sided Merganser
  • Silver Teal
  • Smew
  • South African Shelduck
  • Southern Pochard
  • Spectacled Duck
  • Spectacled Eider
  • Spotted Whistling-Duck
  • Steller’s Eider
  • Sunda Teal
  • Surf Scoter
  • Torrent Duck
  • Tufted Duck
  • Velvet Scoter
  • Wandering Whistling-Duck
  • West Indian Whistling-Duck
  • Western Spot-Billed Duck
  • White-Backed Duck
  • White-Cheeked Pintail
  • White-Faced Whistling-duck
  • White-Headed Duck
  • White-Headed Steamerduck
  • White-Winged Duck
  • Wood Duck
  • Yellow-Billed Duck
  • Yellow-Billed Pintail
  • Yellow-Billed Teal

Duck Image

Physical Description and Appearance

Ducks can be identified based on these physical characteristics:

Size: Their size varies, ranging from the smallest Eurasian teal measuring 20-30 cm (7.9-11.8 in) to the largest common eider having a length of 50-71 cm (20-28 in).

Weight: The average weight of ducks ranges between 320-340 g (11-12 oz) and 1.92-2.21 kg (4.2-4.9 lb).

Body: Ducks usually have an elongated and broad body, although the diving ducks have a more rounded shape.

Bill: They have broad, flat bills comprising comb-like serrated structures on the edges.

Legs: Their legs are scaled and well-developed, set far back on their bodies.

Wings: These aquatic birds are characterized by short, pointed, and extremely powerful wings.

Distribution

Ducks are found all across the world. Its range includes sub-Antarctic islands such as the Auckland Islands and South Georgia. Different duck species live on oceanic islands like Kerguelen, New Zealand, and Hawaii.

What kind of Habitats do Ducks live in

They typically live in marshes, wetlands, ponds, lakes, rivers, and oceans, where they seek out a safe natural environment with good food supply, especially during molting.

Duck Habitat

How long do they live

Ducks live for about 2-12 years, depending on the type of species. The mallard, for example, has an average lifespan of about 5-10 years in the wild.

What do they eat

Ducks are omnivorous water birds, and they feed on a wide range of food sources including aquatic plants, grasses, insects, fish, worms, small mollusks, and amphibians. Few species, like the mergansers, are adapted to capture and eat large fish.

Behavior

  • Dabbling ducks take their food on land or the surface of the water, or by reaching as deep as they can without completely submerging. Sea ducks and diving ducks, on the other hand, feed by diving deep underwater.
  • To keep themselves clean, ducks often preen themselves by pushing their heads and putting their bills into the body.
  • They make different types of calls, including cooing, whistling, grunting, and yodeling. Scaup, for example, makes a call that sounds like ‘scaup’ whereas the mallard makes the typical ‘quack’ sound and another rough noise called the ‘breeeeze’.
  • Many duck species, including the mallard, migrate during the winter months to somewhere warmer.

Adaptations

  • Ducks possess an oily coating that keeps water from settling in their feathers, helping them in staying dry and keeping themselves warm.
  • Their webbed feet, designed like paddles, provide more surface area to push against the water and help them swim.
  • The comb-like structure, called pecten, present along the edge of their beak is adapted to hold slippery food and to preen feathers.
  • They have specialized flat beak suitable for searching insect larvae and pulling small mollusks, worms, and waterweed out of the mud.
Female Duck

How do they Reproduce and Mate

Ducks are monogamous, meaning they form pairs with one partner at a time and the partnership lasts for one year. Larger and sedentary species like the torrent duck, however, stay in pairs for many years.

Most ducks mate once a year, usually in spring, summer, or rainy seasons. Before breeding, the female builds a nest, and, after her eggs hatch, she leads her ducklings to water. The eggs usually hatch about 28-35 days after the beginning of incubation.

The mother takes care of her baby ducks, but she may abandon some of her ducklings if they have sickness and are not prospering.

Male Duck

What do the Baby Ducks look like

Baby ducks hatch from eggs with their eyes open and have a warm layer of thin and delicate feathers. The ducklings are not entirely dependent on their mother for food and can leave their nest within a few hours of hatching.

Duckling

Conservation

The IUCN Species Survival Commission has a duck specialist group that works on monitoring, conservation, research, and management of duck populations in the wild.

Duck-FAQs

1. Can ducks fly?

Not all ducks can fly. For example, three steamer duck species are flightless. They run across water and thrash their wings like the paddle wheels of a steamboat.

2. Do ducks have teeth?

Ducks do not have teeth, but their bills have serrated edges (called pecten) that look like teeth.

3. What do baby ducks eat?

Ducklings feed on seagrass, weeds, and waterside plants.

4. What is a group of ducks called?

A flock, brace, team, raft, or paddling

5. What is a baby duck called?

A duckling

6. What is a female duck called?

A hen

7. What is a male duck called?

A drake

Baby Duck

Interesting Facts

  • Contrary to popular belief, researchers have proven that duck quacks do echo.
  • Among the numerous predators that ducks have, large fish like the European pike and North American musky catch them on the water. Ducks in flight are preyed upon by the peregrine falcon.
  • Donald Duck, Howard the Duck, and Daffy Duck are some of the notable duck characters in the world of animation and fiction.