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What is a Duck?

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Duck definition states that “It is a species of relatively small, short-necked, large-billed waterfowl bird.”


Where Do Ducks Live?

  • Ducks are birds that are also referred to as waterfowls because they are usually found in places like marshes, oceans, rivers, ponds, and lakes that have water. 

  • Ducks are mostly aquatic birds and found in both freshwater and seawater.

  • Ducks, depending on the species, can live for 2-12 years.

Duck Classification

  • The Phylum of Duck is Chordata.

  • The Class of Ducks is Aves.

  • The Order of Duck is Anseriformes.

  • The Family is Anatidae.

  • The scientific name of duck is Anas Platyrhynchos. 

Anatomy of a Duck

In this section, we will understand the duck characteristics. The major duck body parts are as follows:

1. Crown

The crown is the very top part of a duck’s head. Crown looks like a solid colour, iridescent sheen, or any mottling or striations. The shape of the crown is flatter or more peaked and steeply the crown slopes down to the bird's bill. 

2. Bill

A duck's bill is used to filter food out of the water. The shape of the bill is a flattened spatulate shape. 

3. Nail

On the bill, the Ducks have a slightly thicker tip, called the nail. This feature allows them to root through mud or grass to find food, and the nail is more prominent or maybe a different colour than the rest of the bill in some duck species.

4. Throat

The front part of the neck is the throat of the bird. At the base of the neck or for an overall iridescent sheen, there is a ring that can set the neck apart from the remainder of the plumage.

5. Auriculars

The cheeks of a bird are called auriculars, and in some species, these small, fine feathers have a different colour to the rest of the face.

6. Wing

The wings can provide great clues for proper identification, including when folded while a duck is perched or swimming.

7. Breast

8. Underparts

While the underparts of a duck are easily obscured while the bird is swimming, the abdomen can be easily seen and its colour noted for identification if it takes flight or perches.

9. Leg

Most ducks have relatively short legs, but whistling-ducks have much longer legs, and identification can help with that length.

10. Duck claws/ Foot

According to how the birds use their feet, the structure and size of the toes and the size and shape of their claws vary. To provide more surface to press against the water, ducks use their webbed feet like paddles.

11. Rump

Duck rumps are frequently covered by wings that are folded.

12. Tail

Most ducks have relatively short tails, but great identifying clues can be the overall colour and any spotting or barring.

13. Speculum

Many species of duck have a vivid speculum, which on each wing is a patch of iridescent secondary feathers. The speculum can be clearly seen while the bird is in flight, but when the wings are folded, it can be partially or fully obscured.


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Types of Ducks

Different types of ducks are classified based on various features such as living condition and their structure and colour of the body parts like the size of the bill, the colour of the eye, wing structure, etc.

Different duck varieties based on features of duck are as follows.

1. Dabbling Duck

  • Dabblers are ducks that tip up to feed, rooting in pursuit of plants and insects through shallow water and mud.

  • These ducks will also nibble along the surface of the water, and they will also feed easily on land, but they will dive below the water quite seldom.

  • The mallard is the most common dabbling duck species, but the northern pintail, American wigeon, and various teals are also dabblers.


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2. Diving Duck

  • Diving ducks are agile swimmers who, searching for food, including fish, insects, and aquatic plants, dive well below the surface of the water.

  • These ducks tend to remain in the water and can be ungainly and clumsy on land, and to take off from the water's surface, they have to build up momentum.

  • The Scaups, Goldeneyes, Canvasback, and Redhead are among the diving duck species.


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3. Eider

  • In Arctic habitats, these types of sea ducks are found.

  • Eiders are well known for their lush down and their amazing insulating properties that shield them from the extreme cold, and for those feathers, they have been hunted extensively in the past. Fortunately, conservation laws now strongly defend them.

  • The common, spectacled, Steller's, and king eider include Eider duck species.


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4. Goldeneye

  • Goldeneye duck species are diving ducks distinguished by their large, round heads with an iridescent shine, aptly named for their bright yellow eyes.

  • In tree holes, they nest and have sharp black and white plumage.

  • There are only two species of goldeneye, the common goldeneye and Barrow's, although sometimes buffleheads are also classified as a form of goldeneye.


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5. Merganser

  • Narrow, serrated, hooked bills are the most prominent features of these short, slender, streamlined ducks.

  • The only groups of ducks that consume a significant amount of fish and related prey on a regular basis are the Mergansers, and their bills are specialized to make them keen and vicious hunters.

  • The hooded, common, and red-breasted merganser are among the species of these ducks.


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6. Perching Duck

  • Perching ducks have prominent talons to give them stronger perch grips on their webbed feet.

  • They can be found frequently perching in trees along wooded waterways and other nesting areas with suitable trees, and they can nest hundreds of feet above the ground.

  • Familiar and popular examples of perching ducks are Muscovy, pink-eared, wood, and mandarin ducks.


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7. Scoter

  • Scooters are bulky sea ducks with dark plumage and swollen, brightly coloured and patterned bills, although their body colour is relatively flat.

  • In northern regions and along with marine ecosystems, these birds can be found, especially in rocky areas that may appear inhospitable to many birds.

  • Black, surf, common, white-winged, and velvet scoters are the most familiar  Scoter duck species.


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8. Sea-Duck

  • Sea-ducks are sea birds that are present in coastal environments. However, they can range further inland during the nesting season and migration, and vagrant sightings are also regularly recorded.

  • These bulky birds have special glands that help them to tolerate saltwater without dehydration.

  • Sea-duck species include long-tailed duck, eiders, scoters, golden eyes, and mergansers.


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9. Stifftail

  • The stifftails are appropriately called diving ducks with spiky stiff tails that they use when swimming as agile rudders.

  • As a breeding or territorial display, especially between competing males, the tail may also be kept angled or vertically.

  • There are also bright bills and lightweight bodies on these ducks. 

  • The ruddy duck, masked duck, and blue-billed duck are among the stiff tailed duck species.


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10. Teal

  • Teals are dabbling ducks which, including fantastic speculum colouration, often have brightly coloured, distinctive plumage.

  • In comparison to tipping up, these ducks tend to feed along the surface of the water, but they often tip-up.

  • Teals are popular with waterfowl hunters, and as game birds, they are carefully managed

  • The cinnamon, green-winged, blue-winged, and silver teal are among the species of Teal.


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11. Whistling-Duck

  • In comparison to standard compact duck proportions, these tropical ducks have long legs and tails, and they may be mistaken for small geese.

  • These birds are named for their shrill whistling calls, which for other birds and animals can be heard over long distances and are sometimes confused.

  • The black-bellied, fulvous, and white-faced whistling-ducks are among the whistling-duck species.


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12. Domestic Duck

  • Domestic ducks are escapees from fisheries, gardens, and zoos, not wild animals, and are sometimes kept as pets.

  • In mixed flocks, these ducks also congregate in urban and suburban ponds.

  • A high degree of hybridization with other domestic and wild ducks is demonstrated by their indistinct plumage, a wide variety of sizes, and mottled colours.


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More Duck Information

Feeding of Ducks

  • Ducks consume a number of sources of food, such as grass, aquatic plants, fish, insects, small amphibians, worms, and small molluscs.

  • Dabbling ducks feed on the water surface or on the deck, or as far as they can go without completely submerging, by up-ending.

  • A few adapted species are suitable for capturing and swallowing large fish, such as mergansers.

Communication of Ducks

Female ducks make the classic "quack" sound, while males make a similar but raspier sound, often as "breeeeze" but most duck species do not "quack" despite common misconceptions. Ducks make a large variety of calls such as whistles, cooing, yodels, and grunts.


Breeding of Ducks

  • Once a year, most duck species breed, preferring to do so in favourable circumstances.

  • Ducks prefer to make a nest before breeding, too, and lead their ducklings to water after hatching.

  • Mother ducks are very loving and protective of their young, but if they are physically confined in an area they can not get out of or are not thriving due to genetic defects or illness caused by hypothermia, hunger, or disease, they may abandon some of their ducklings.

  • Its eggs and ducklings are ignored by most domestic ducks, and their eggs are hatched by using hen or artificially.

Domestication of Ducks

  • Domestic ducks are ducks that are bred for meat, eggs, and down (duck feather).

  • Many ducks, as pets, are bred for their ornamental value and also kept for display. 

  • Apart from the Muscovy duck (Cairina moschata), nearly all types of domestic duck are descended from the mallard (Anas platyrhynchos).

  • In a lot of places wild ducks are used for hunting purposes.

Fun Duck Facts

  • Ducks are found in all continents except Antarctica.

  • The word "duck" comes from an old word in English that means "diver."

  • Ducks have amazing vision and are actually able to see in colour.

  • A hen is a female duck, a drake is a male duck, and a baby duck is a duckling.

  • Daylight affects the development of duck eggs. The ducks will lay more eggs as there is more daylight.

  • There are three eyelids on the ducks.

  • Since ducks don't have nerves or blood vessels in their feet, they can't sense cold or hot. This is what makes it possible for them to swim in ice-cold water.

  • The feathers of ducks are waterproof.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Do All Ducks Fly?

Ans: No all ducks won’t fly because most domestic duck breeds have lost their ability to fly. But there are wild ducks that fly long distances in the winter months during their migration process. Most duck species have wings that are small, heavy, and pointed to accommodate the bird's need for quick, continuous strokes. 

2. Are Ducks Classified as Birds?

Ans: Ducks are mainly aquatic birds, mostly smaller than swans and geese, and can be found in fresh and marine waters as well. Several types of unrelated water birds with similar forms, such as loons or divers, grebes, gallinules, and coots, are often mistaken for ducks.

3. What is the Main Characteristic of the Duck?

Ans: Ducks have a lightweight body that is useful if immersed in water for streamlined swimming and retaining body heat. Usually, their legs are set far back on their body, making them ungainly on the ground, thus giving them more strength when swimming and diving.

4. Where Do Ducks Live?

Ans: Ducks are very good swimmers, so they live close to the water. Throughout the world, they live in lakes and ponds. Some ducks live in swampy areas of low ground called marshes. Some ducks live in cold areas, so during the winter months, they migrate, or pass, southwards.