- A-Z Animals
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The IUCN Species Survival Commission has a duck specialist group that works on monitoring, conservation, research, and management of duck populations in the wild.
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?
6. What is a female duck called?
7. What is a male duck called?